General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand Rss Feed  
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2014-11-11 2:09 PM

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Subject: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
Looking for some advice from someone in Australia or New Zealand, or someone who has done a couple of the IM races there.

I have a once in my lifetime (probably) opportunity to go to Australia/New Zealand in 2015 or 2016 for a full IM distance race (would be my third). I'm looking for a flatter bike course (or at least not too climby) and mild temps (I tend to melt in the heat above 80).

Question : if you could only do one IM race in Aus/NAZ, which one would you choose and WHY ?
- IM Australia
- IM Western Australia
- IM Melbourne
- IM Cairns
- IM New Zealand

Leaning towards IM WA but see reports that the weather can be hot and windy.

Any thoughts or advice is welcome !
(I'll also post this in the AUS/NAZ forum).


2014-11-11 3:33 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand

I've raced Western Australia and New Zealand.  I'd also like to race in Port Macquarie someday but it may be a few years.

Anyhow for the two I'm familiar with:

IM Western Australia:

Swim: an awesome saltwater swim around the jetty.  My race day in 2011 had some medium rollers but it was a very relaxed swim, wide beach start and not much contact.  My strong breathing side is left, which let me sight on the jetty the entire way.  You should pay attention to the current and pick your starting line accordingly.  Also bring dark tinted goggles as the race starts at 5:45am and the sunrise will start when you're mid-swim.

Bike: it's the flattest bike course out there, even compared to Florida.  It can get windy and hot later in the day.  The other tricky part is they have a 12 meter draft box (vs. 7 for most races) and it's a 3 loop course, so it's very hard to ride legally.  Road quality is smooth in some sections, chip-seal in others.

Run: I don't know year to year, but 2011 was hot hot hot (I had 102F on my bike computer at 10am, run was probably worse).  It's also flat but it's along the beach so there's very little shade or cover.

I enjoyed most of this race.  But the intangible that drove me insane: the black flies are intolerable that time of year.  They try to land on your face / nose / ears / eyes and you pretty much have to keep waving your hand in front of your face anytime you're outside during the day.  Some people just ignore them but I altered my post-race travel plans to fly over to Brisbane early.

There's not a lot to do in Busselton so most folks were out of there the day after the race.  It's also a 3 hour drive from the nearest airport (Perth) -- pretty remote.

 

IM New Zealand:

Swim: deep water start, nice water, comfortable temp.  Sighting was a little tough inbound for me, but no real complaints.  There's a somewhat long run up to the bikes but spectators are crowding you like a Tour rider so it's fun.

Bike: there's a short hill exiting town, but it's pretty flat after that.  There can be crosswinds up towards Reporoa where the farms have cleared out a lot of the trees these days.  The road is 90% chip-seal, somewhat rough, but I've ridden on worse.  No potholes or dangerous things that I noticed.

Run: this was fun.  It follows the lakeside for a good portion, then up through a neighborhood, various terrain, lots and lots of spectator support.  The temperature at this point in the race was ~80-85F, fairly comfortable.

Taupo is not a large town but it's fun to hang out for a bit.  You can go find some hot springs, take a sailboat ride on the lake, and do a few other touristy things.  We went up north to the Bay of Islands for a couple days after the race to relax, then bounced around a few more places, including the south island to finish up our trip.  Queenstown is fun and you should absolutely make time to check it out.

 

NZ was just an awesome race that I'd easily do again.  IMWA had its moments and was worth doing once but I probably won't try again.

Part of the issue, aside from the flies, is that for me living near Seattle the travel to Busselton is brutal.  Seattle -> LAX (2hr), LAX -> Sydney (15hr), Sydney -> Perth (5hr), Perth drive to Busselton (3hr), plus layovers, you get the idea.

LAX to Auckland is pretty easy by comparison - about 12hr.  There's also a lot of stuff to do in New Zealand crammed into a smaller area which is nice for vacationing.

 

I hope that helps.  I don't want to sound too hard on IMWA -- it's a one of a kind swim experience and a PR course for sure.  But NZ was really the better destination race IMO.



Edited by spudone 2014-11-11 3:34 PM
2014-11-11 11:33 PM
in reply to: Kevin26.2

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
I have spent a lot of time between Aus and US so here's my take on what you are going to get at each race:
- IM Australia(Port Mac) : swim: ocean, wetsuit, not too badly exposed and as of last year has a multiple loop format; Bike: has some decent hills and can be windy at times(last year was Hawaii type winds at times); Run: relatively flat; Temp: not too bad most years, expect 80's
- IM Western Australia: The other posters response was fairly comprehensive and i would say a fair description. This is a fast track but the limiter is the heat which can be tough - although humidity is low so it is not like a baking midwest race with 90+% humidity.
- IM Melbourne: Swim: ocean swim, wetsuit, conditions can be flat right through to ugly depending on the year and also expect the water to be chilly; Bike: flat fast and great road surface - its on a freeway! no excuse not to have a bike PR, can be a draft fest though; Run: point to point run, flat mostly on a bike/walking path, seems that there are a lot of very fast run splits on this course; Temps: expect it to be mild most years 70's to low 80's and low humidity - depending on the day it wouldnt be shocking to have a day in the 60's
- IM Cairns: Swim: sheltered 2 lap ocean swim, wetsuit; Bike: one of the best bike courses globally, very scenic along the coast with a few hills to keep it interesting; Run: they have changed it to multiple laps, it is relatively flat but depending on the year the humidity can a killer; Temps: tropical so can be hot
- IM New Zealand: also a fairly good description by the other poster. The swim can be either dead flat or very rough(has been cancelled a few times), lake temps will be cool. Bike - this is probably the worst road surface of all of the Aus/NZ races.

If i was travelling from the US to race i would probably pick:
1) Cairns
2) Melbourne (a bit of a gamble on the swim conditions)

Just be aware that almost everything in Australia is a lot more expensive than the US - be prepared to spend a lot on food, etc
2014-11-12 12:42 PM
in reply to: Kevin26.2

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
I've only done IMWA on your list, but it was epic.

It does fit your desired params, flat bike, decent temps.

It's a fantastic race, and the support is amazing with the local folks. Love the town of Busselton.

The swim is amazing as you probably know, single loop around the pier. Bike is 3 loops, and run is 4 loops. Both are flat.

It can be windy on the bike, and the run can have the dreaded flies...but in 2011 it was decent...wind kicked up a bit in the last 2 loops but not horrible, and the flies were on their best behavior on the run.

The pre-swims were pretty chilly but was quite nice on race day.

Not a cheap race, but worth it.
2014-11-12 7:06 PM
in reply to: metafizx

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand

Not a cheap race, but worth it.

Yeah... the worst thing you can do is none at all

2014-11-14 10:56 AM
in reply to: Kevin26.2

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
Thanks to all for the great replies - this really helps me through the decision process.

Although WA sounds fast, the possible heat and flies are a turn-off. I think I'm taking this off the list. And the highway bike course in Melbourne doesn't get me too excited if I'm making this trip my once ever to Australia. So I'm leaning to Cairns which sounds perfect in every way except maybe humidity. Timing for Cairns is better coming from the U.S. - it is in June and can train in the spring/early summer. The other races would have training in Winter/early spring. It looks like they have a 70.3 in Cairns on the same day which is a kinda "con" since it probably crowds the course a bit and might take away from the IM feel.

If you know any reason (downsides) why Cairns would not be a good choice, please let me know. I really appreciate the feedback, has helped greatly.


2014-11-17 12:38 AM
in reply to: Kevin26.2

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
Originally posted by Kevin26.2

Thanks to all for the great replies - this really helps me through the decision process.

Although WA sounds fast, the possible heat and flies are a turn-off. I think I'm taking this off the list. And the highway bike course in Melbourne doesn't get me too excited if I'm making this trip my once ever to Australia. So I'm leaning to Cairns which sounds perfect in every way except maybe humidity. Timing for Cairns is better coming from the U.S. - it is in June and can train in the spring/early summer. The other races would have training in Winter/early spring. It looks like they have a 70.3 in Cairns on the same day which is a kinda "con" since it probably crowds the course a bit and might take away from the IM feel.

If you know any reason (downsides) why Cairns would not be a good choice, please let me know. I really appreciate the feedback, has helped greatly.


If i were making the trip over for an IM i think Cairns is the clear winner - you can make a nice vacation of it either side of the race
-fly into Sydney or Brisbane - plenty of stuff to enjoy close to either of those cities
-fly up to Cairns, do the race, and then enjoy the reef, rainforests, book yourself into a nice resort for a few days of post race relaxation

I think you would be least disappointed with how your $ were being spent with this choice
2014-11-20 9:01 AM
in reply to: Kevin26.2

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
Originally posted by Kevin26.2

Looking for some advice from someone in Australia or New Zealand, or someone who has done a couple of the IM races there.

I have a once in my lifetime (probably) opportunity to go to Australia/New Zealand in 2015 or 2016 for a full IM distance race (would be my third). I'm looking for a flatter bike course (or at least not too climby) and mild temps (I tend to melt in the heat above 80).

Question : if you could only do one IM race in Aus/NAZ, which one would you choose and WHY ?
- IM Australia
- IM Western Australia
- IM Melbourne
- IM Cairns
- IM New Zealand

Leaning towards IM WA but see reports that the weather can be hot and windy.

Any thoughts or advice is welcome !
(I'll also post this in the AUS/NAZ forum).


Thought about Challenge Wanaka?

I have never been but I have heard great things about the area and through me experience in world travels, small towns beat out big cities. Just some food for thought.
2014-11-21 7:27 AM
in reply to: bcagle25

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
Thought about that race (well, probably the 70.3) many times myself.......but would probably not do it personally as I've watched several videos of it and they always talk about how cold the lake is! Have never been able to get my breathing right in water below about 65F, so probably a deal-breaker for me. I've been to Wanaka and done a couple long runs there, some of which were probably on/near the IM course. Can be windy, but a beautiful area. Definitely plenty to do in the surrounding area post-race, though it's more of an adventure sports mecca and you might not be up to trekking or bungee jumping just after an IM!
2015-01-22 4:28 AM
in reply to: Kevin26.2

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
I suggest Melbourne especially due to the easy access - St Kilds is less than one our away from the Airport, you can fly in and not long after you are in your hotel bed, the area is also nice at that time of the year. I wrote a blog post on it here, while I'm based in Asia, applies to other regions too:

http://www.asiatri.com/2015/01/ironman-melbourne-a-great-option-for...
2015-04-07 8:45 PM
in reply to: Kevin26.2

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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
Originally posted by Kevin26.2

Thanks to all for the great replies - this really helps me through the decision process.

Although WA sounds fast, the possible heat and flies are a turn-off. I think I'm taking this off the list. And the highway bike course in Melbourne doesn't get me too excited if I'm making this trip my once ever to Australia. So I'm leaning to Cairns which sounds perfect in every way except maybe humidity. Timing for Cairns is better coming from the U.S. - it is in June and can train in the spring/early summer. The other races would have training in Winter/early spring. It looks like they have a 70.3 in Cairns on the same day which is a kinda "con" since it probably crowds the course a bit and might take away from the IM feel.

If you know any reason (downsides) why Cairns would not be a good choice, please let me know. I really appreciate the feedback, has helped greatly.


I did Cairns in 2013. I know they changed it for 2014 and have no idea what is happening this year.

In 2013 it was great - I stayed at the Mantra which was literally across the road from the transition area and <10min walk to race start. The swim start/T1/finish were all in the same place, with T2 being a bit up the road.

I live in Queensland and travelled up a week before the race. Did the touristy things (snorkelling on the reef and the Kuranda Skyrail) in the week leading up.

I know in 2014 they changed the run course making it have lots of out and backs and really confusing (apparently), but for location it was a fantastic event.

Do know though that the water was about 25 degrees C, and they allowed a wetsuit due to the chance of jellyfish stings (really dangerous ones). It was quite hot in the water with the wetsuit as I recall.


2015-05-04 2:16 PM
in reply to: Kevin26.2


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Subject: RE: Need Advice - IM races in Australia/New Zealand
Not sure if you have already signed up...Im an aussie living in USA and just got back from a holiday in Melbourne (missed the race by one week!). The Ironman Melbourne course is my home town so I had a chance to walk the course. Im probably biased but my coach is a regular at Ironman WA.

For Melbourne, you are swimming in a partially sheltered bay (Port Phillip Bay). Its out along the Pier then a long stretch parallel to the shore, turn around and come back. Conditions do vary, one year the had a lot of chop (and shortened the race) the other year it was smooth and flat). The Bike is a beautiful smooth ride along the major tollway (less than 10 years old). Its flat, fast but can have a lot of wind. Two loops so I guess any wind would even out! The run- along the beach foreshore on paved and sealed path.

Its a relatively new event so still not fully embraced- it will be, Melbourne is crazy about sport!

Ironman WA has been around a while, and I hear good things about it (expect the bike can be super windy and they recommend not using full disk wheels!)

One thing to think about- after the Ironman, are you going to stay for a while. With Melbourne you are right in the city area, with WA you are nearly 2.5 hours from Perth. So if you are doing sightseeing, or have an entourage then you might want to factor that it.

Either way, you cant lose!
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