Triathlon: Ironman 70.3 Florida
Date: Sunday, May 20, 2007
Location: Orlando, Florida (Walt Disney World Resort - Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground)
Weather: At the start of the race it was nice and cool, in the mid 60’s. Once on the bike, the sun came out but it was covered by clouds on and off. The winds were light with forecasted winds of 13 to 18 miles an hour. The sun was out in full force on the run, but it did cloud up every so often, the forecast for the day was 86 degrees. These conditions were way better than last year when the temperature was in the 90’s.
Swim: The swim course was a big “U” loop. On race day the water was nice and calm but too hot for wetsuits. The water temp was in the low 80’s. They did have plenty of buoys but the initial straight away didn’t seem too straight. The beach was nice and had plenty of room for spectators. They had plenty of support personnel along the course. It was kind of an early start for the swim, the first wave of male pros hit the water at 6:20 AM and every wave after went every 4 minutes.
The swim to bike transition was long. It was nice to see that they did manage to put carpet down on the wood chip path. Funny thing is they were about 30 to 40 feet short before reaching the grassy area of the bike transition, so we did have to run on the wood chips at one point.
Bike: The bike was one loop. The initial and final portions of the loop had us riding through the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground roads, which were nice and didn’t have any traffic. Once off the Disney property there weren’t any closed roads, but in most cases we did have one lane to ourselves or we were on the shoulder. In some cases they were controlling the amount of traffic on the road we were on, which wasn’t too bad for a Sunday morning. There was one stretch of road that seemed a bit intimidating. There was no shoulder and the cars really didn’t know what to do, I passed 3 or 4 cars as they crept along. The course was well marked and had lots of support from the local authorities. It was flat with a couple of small hills and then some rolling hills just past the midway point, the course had lots of turns, one of them being a tight 180 turn. We had plenty of headwind and crosswind to deal with, but not much in the sense of a tailwind. They had marshals on the course but there seemed to be some drafting going on from what I saw and from what others were saying. At one point I came across a penalty tent and there were 4 or 5 people stopped there. My bike computer had me almost 2 mile ahead at mile marker 45 and when I finished it was over 57 miles. Some people stated that the bike course changed and that they liked this course much better.
The bike dismount to the transition area entrance was not that far but they had you running on crushed / packed gravel, but it sort of woke your feet up stepping on the rocks if you were just wearing socks. We did have to go out this way from T1 also.
Run: The run was 3 loops. The run starts on a paved trail and then goes to a paved road closed to normal traffic. It goes out and comes back and just past the 1 mile mark it turns left on to a grassy trail. The trail section was flat but uneven at times, with lots of grass and dirt. This trail section was long enough to support 3 aid stations before getting back on the paved road of the resort and then the paved trail. There was really no shade along the trail and it seemed that the heat increased a degree or two when you were out there. The paved trail was nice because it was like running in the woods, it seemed cooler when you were on it. Along the way there was plenty of room for spectators to cheer you on. In talking to others that have done the race before, this was a different run course and they all said it was better, way better than running through a portion of a golf course like they had before.
Transition Area: It was nice and big and on a grassy field. They had one main path down the center but it seemed that the bike rack rows on one side of the path were super long in some cases compared to shorter bike racks on the other side. As usual it never seems that they have enough port-a-potties for everyone, but these were setup perfectly for you to access coming in from the swim or going out on the run.
Expo: InsideOut Sports had a huge tent; it was like they packed up one of their stores and brought it with them. They had pretty much everything you needed there. They also had a tent with 4 or 5 mechanics, but you had to get there early because later on the place had a huge line. Another popular booth was Newton Running, they had plenty of sample shoes for you to try out and buy. They had a Challenged Athletes Foundation booth with Major David Rozelle there who also raced. Another popular booth was the Endless Pools, I just wish I could have stayed in there longer to get a workout in.
Aid Stations: They had 3 aid stations on the bike course and they were fully stocked with volunteers and refreshments. They were at miles 20, 33 and 45. The run aid stations again were fully stocked with volunteers and refreshments. They had Lemon-Lime Endurance Gatorade, water and cola. They had Powerbar gels, bananas, grapes, pretzels and cookies. They were also handing out sponges and cups of ice.
Post Race Food: They had pizza, water and pop. Kind of a shame that they didn’t have anything else for you to enjoy, at least it was being served in the shade.
Post Race Goodies: You got a very nice finisher medal, a duffel bag, a finisher t-shirt and a cool-max hat.
Massage Tent: I didn’t wait in line to get a massage, the line was too long. From what I could tell they only had about 7 or 8 beds set up for massage and with 2,500 athletes that was just not enough.
Accommodations: We stayed in the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Our room was a cabin in the woods. The cabin could sleep people comfortably and had a nice deck area and parking area to work on your bike. All of the cabins in our loop had triathletes competing in the race. They had a fridge, stove and microwave and a grill.
Summary: This if the fourth year for this triathlon event and this was my first time there. The one negative thing about this race and the swim was the fact that you could not get into the lake and swim prior to the race. This lake has boat shuttles to Magic Kingdom and boat rentals and possibly alligators. We did hear that people had complained about swimmers in the lake at prior races. Why couldn’t they have a scheduled time and have anybody that wanted to swim go at that time. I along with some friends did manage to sneak into the lake for a 15 minute swim just prior to the start of the kids Splash and Dash race but for those looking for a longer workout that was unavailable. They did offer athletes the opportunity to go and swim a local training center but for those who didn’t rent a car that was a problem. Disney people suggested we try the beach at the Port Orleans Resort but we never made it there to see if that was possible. On the swim, the overall feeling was that the swim course was a bit longer than 1.2 miles. The bike was nice, but possibly scary for some when it came to traffic. I really didn’t like running 60% to 70% of the run on uneven trails and having my shoes all dirty after finishing. Overall I enjoyed my experience at this triathlon and would not think twice about doing it again.