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2018-10-15 4:40 PM

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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Hey there, long time no see I hope everyone has had a great season.

I am considering training for my first 70.3 race in 2019. Looking for suggestions based on the following:
- I have completed several sprints and few Olympic triathlons
- completed several half-marathons, a marathon, and 50K
- in the past: able to swim comfortably 2K in the pool, and up to 1.5K open water
- have not swam regularly this year, but did almost a mile in the lake last summer
- longest distance on the bike: 75 miles on roadie, 40 on MTB
- current training: (sorry, my log is not up to date right now)
--- running regularly almost every day, small distances+long run, training for trail HM in November, marathon in April 2019
--- not swimming, but planning to swim in full force after November race
--- MTB biking few times a month, usually around 20-30 miles of MTB
--- some strength training, elliptical, etc, yoga, rock climbing

* I would say running is my biggest strength, since I've been doing it the most
* swimming would be the weakest, thus, devoting winter for swim training (plan is to swim 4-5 times a week)
* I live in Chicago IL suburbs, so it's super flat, weather conditions are pretty unpredictable, but I am not afraid of sever conditions
* I work full time and raise two kids, travel a lot, thus, some time limitations to the training, but able to devote: 6 days for running, 3 days for swimming, 4 days for biking (per week, APPROXIMATELY).

What I am looking for:
- not crazy conditions, given my limited experience (no crazy uphills, crazy waves in the ocean, etc)
- it does not have to be prestigious race, local event would work perfectly
- not crazy expensive
- I am willing to drive up to 20 hours from Chicago, flight depends on location

I know there may not be a perfect race, but I though if there is something close enough, I would know what to focus on (for example: great race with hills - I will work on hills more).
My goal is to complete it and see how I would enjoy 70.3 distance.

Let me know which races could seem like a fit, and which ones are absolutely out of the plan. If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to ask
Thanks for all your feedback.

Edited by marysia83 2018-10-15 4:42 PM


2018-10-15 6:38 PM
in reply to: marysia83


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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
highly recommend ironman augusta 70.3 for your first. i did it this year for my first and it was great. swim has been wetsuit legal 8 out of 11 years and was wetsuit optional this year (i wore mine and have no regrets), downriver swim with good current, fairly flat bike ride 1400 feet of elevation, and dead flat run. fast fun course.
it is a little expensive with travel, but ironman does a great job with aid stations etc. i will say they had me a bit intimidated with all the talk of drafting rules etc etc. franky no one around me paid any attention to drafting rules or any other rule. now i was in the back of the pack so im sure it would be different if you are competing for a podium spot.
2018-10-15 9:16 PM
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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
It is rather far afield for you, but IM Calgary 70.3 strikes me as a good 70.3 race for beginners. I have done it twice (2016 and 2018) and both of my most recent PB's were set there (5:16 and 5:06). It is a fast course, relatively speaking, with no huge challenges. You can see my race reports; there were major changes to the course last year so this year's report would be more relevant.

Conditions are typically mild--quite cool in the morning (but the swim is in a shallow lake and the water hasn't been super cold) with high 40's to low 50's at the start to, at most, around 75-80 by the end of the run. Extremes seem to be rare that time of year. The swim is in a small lake in a residential area. The worst I can say is it can be quite crowded. But good safety setup and extremely tame. It should always be wetsuit legal. Both years I did it, water temps were in the high 60's to low 70's. There are wetsuit strippers and transition is pretty compact; race format was changed this year so T1 and T2 are in the same place and the finish is about a 10 minute walk from transition; it's all in a big community park with plenty of space for spectators to hang out. Bike course has no major hills in either direction. Some long, gradual climbs/descents, mostly "false flats". The only challenge is it can be windy in places as you are out on the high prairie much of the time with few trees to block the wind, but you would probably be used to that if from Chicago! Run is really nice, one bigger climb/descent of about half a mile and the rest is mostly flat along a riverside bike path that winds through woods and parkland.

The community is very supportive and the event is very well organized. My only caveat would be to book accommodation early--the race HQ hotel is really the most convenient place to stay; everything else is a considerable drive away (at least 6-8 miles, maybe 15-20 from downtown) as the start, transition, and finish are in an outlying suburb of the city. Calgary's very spread out and the road system can be a bit confusing for visitors to navigate. The other nice thing about this race is that it's only a few hour's drive from Banff National Park, and could be part of a longer family vacation. We loved staying three days at Canmore en route to the race this year. May or may not be what you have in mind. Over 9 hours drive from Chicago; it would be a good fly and drive location, though.

Edited by Hot Runner 2018-10-15 9:19 PM
2018-10-16 12:33 AM
in reply to: marysia83


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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Closest events are IM 70.3 Wisconsin (Madison), Ohio (Delaware, OH), Muncie (IN) and Steelhead (Benton Harbor, MI). Go on the Ironman site and look them up to see if they meet your parameters.

Have fun with your first 70.3!
2018-10-16 6:55 AM
in reply to: marysia83

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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
I live in Indiana and grew up in the Chicago burbs. So, I know the area. I just did my first 70.3 this year and it was Steelhead. I loved the race. The bike course is nice because it is not a multiloop course which tends to be much better for traffic and less congestion. The date has been changed to the end of June. So, it will be cooler than it was at the end of August. It will definitely be a wetsuit swim. You can easily get practice swimming in Lake Michigan. Honestly, overall it probably would be the easiest option. Muncie is another possibility but I avoided that race because the heat can be absolutely brutal. Especially if you don't have any breeze. However, it is a completely closed bike course. So, that would be nice. Wisconsin can be a little more challenging with hills but a great option. I really want to do the new Traverse City 70.3 too. It just didn't fit in to the family schedule this year and that one sold out in like 0.9 seconds. LOL

If you have any other questions on Steelhead let me know. It was a great first 70.3!
2018-10-16 9:20 AM
in reply to: jnuger

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1449
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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Thank you all for the suggestions and different options! It helps narrow down the races and prepare better.

Is a wetsuit a must? I don't have one, and completed all of my swims without it. I know there are plenty of benefits to have one, but if it's not necessary, I'd like to swim without it (and if I decide longer races are my thing I will eventually buy it). Thanks!


2018-10-16 1:42 PM
in reply to: #5250698

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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Augusta Is an easy course with down river swim, fast bike and flat run. However, the temp tends to get up in the mid 90s during the run.

You certainly wouldn’t need a wetsuit for the swim.
2018-10-16 3:14 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Olathe
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
IM 70.3 Boulder - don't be afraid of altitude, not a huge factor. Nice bike + pretty flat run.
IM 70.3 Chattanooga was cool, but rolling hills and the run was hilly. Volunteers and atmosphere made up for a tougher course - and oh ya, down river swim.
IM 70.3 Muncie - never raced it, but heard it's pretty straight forward.
2018-10-16 4:27 PM
in reply to: TriJayhawkRyan

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1449
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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Originally posted by TriJayhawkRyan

IM 70.3 Boulder - don't be afraid of altitude, not a huge factor. Nice bike + pretty flat run.
IM 70.3 Chattanooga was cool, but rolling hills and the run was hilly. Volunteers and atmosphere made up for a tougher course - and oh ya, down river swim.
IM 70.3 Muncie - never raced it, but heard it's pretty straight forward.


Thanks Ryan. I am very intimidated by Boulder... Although, I absolutely love that place!
2018-10-16 4:54 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Olathe
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
I've raced the full once and the half 3 times.
The trick is if it gets warm, you need to make sure you hit your hydration on the bike.
2018-10-16 5:44 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Champion
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Placitas, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3

I've only done one HIM, Steelhead, in 2006 before WTC took it over.  Lake Michigan is a wildcard, but the bike and run were decent courses.  

Wisconsin offered about a half-dozen HIM's (10 years ago).  

Those have the advantage of proximity meaning relatively easy travel logistics.  

I've used IM's as justification to go to some destination.  IMCdA to hit Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Glacier NP (not to mention the Corn Palace in Mitchell SD) on a 2 week driving vacation.  Vineman to visit NoCA wine country, Yosemite, and San Fran.  

Maybe ask your kids to help pick destinations and then research races in their top choices?  

NC70.3 (Wilmingon) could be a good destination.  A bit of a drive, but usually decent weather (disregard Hurricane Florence), a fast swim (I went 48:00 vs. my usual 1:10:00 at B2B), relatively flat single loop bike, and well shaded run.  (B2B was taken over by WTC and since discontinued.)  I think it's during the school year so combining it with "family vacation" may be a challenge.  

 



2018-10-16 7:05 PM
in reply to: McFuzz

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Thought about suggesting IM CDA (late June), but you would need to be comfortable with a cold, potentially somewhat choppy lake swim, and major hills on the bike. Nothing scary or technical, but there is a lot of climbing and not a whole lot of flat ground. That being said, the swim is a self-seeded rolling wave start and very well-managed. I finished front end of MOP on that leg and never felt crowded at all. You'd definitely need a wetsuit, and to ride plenty of hills or at least simulated hills in training; know how to use your gears! The run is not flat but there aren't any dramatic hills. It was one of my faster run splits despite some cramping in the last four miles. There is the potential for cold conditions, especially pre-race and early on, and hot, dry ones past noon some years on the run. The year I did the race it was about 50 at the start, maybe low 80's when I finished about 5:30 later, and well into the 90's for the BOP athletes at the finish.

CDA is a smaller community with great volunteer support and a family-friendly park for the start, transition, and finish; compact downtown with plenty of kid-friendly places to eat, and easy to navigate; easy drive from the airport in Spokane. Close to other vacation destinations (we like the town of Sandpoint, a few hours north; Kootenai and Banff parks in Canada are within a day's drive as well). The only disadvantage I can think of is that local accommodation prices skyrocket for race week; the only good deals are probably in Spokane. Poor value for the money, in my opinion, but we chose to stay in CDA within an easy bike ride of the start and finish. About $200/night for a pretty basic double room with breakfast in a small locally-run place. You might have better luck with Air B and B; or maybe not...
2018-10-16 8:14 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Grand Rapids Tri! It's a fantastic local race but there are enough people that it still feels like a big race. The swim is in a damned off area of a river so no current. There are a few hills on the bike, but nothing excessive, same with the run course. We have a lot of Chicago people come up for our local races. Hit me up with any questions... if you can't tell, I live in the area.
2018-10-17 3:59 PM
in reply to: TriJayhawkRyan

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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3

I was going to suggest Chattanooga too but its a May race.  She has a marathon in April so I would think she needs a July or later race.  That's going to mean a hot race...probably Ohio or Muncie would be good choices (especially since she doesn't have a wetsuit).

2018-10-17 6:02 PM
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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Calgary is usually not hot by American midwestern standards. (Though the Canadians were all worried about "heat illness" with high temps in mid 70's and super-low humidity.) Ditto for CDA, except maybe the final hours of the run some years. But it would be a lot of travel and you would really need a wetsuit for those races, especially CDA, unless a true polar bear.

Edited by Hot Runner 2018-10-17 6:02 PM
2018-10-18 6:32 AM
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Elite
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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3

Barrelman in Niagara Falls, google says it's an 8 hour drive.  https://niagarafallstriathlon.com/

Swim is a single loop in a rowing basin, very easy to navigate.  Bike is flat on quiet roads and the two loop run goes past the waterfall twice.  It is very beginner friendly, they cap the registrations around 1000 and space the waves out well so it is not crowded at all.  The bike is point to point but don't let that sway you, they have the logistics of getting everyone where they need to be down pat.  Highly recommend the race to anyone. 

Added bonus is the race fees are in Canadian $ so you get a 20% discount coming from the USA! 

 Edit to add that a wetsuit wouldn't be a requirement at all.  This year there was worry from many people that it wouldn't be wetsuit legal, I think it ended up being about 2 degrees C below the cutoff on race morning.



Edited by axteraa 2018-10-18 6:34 AM


2018-10-18 10:02 AM
in reply to: axteraa

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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3

I really liked the Door County Half Iron.  The swim can be quite wavy (like any open water I suppose) if the weather is bad, but it's by Green Bay so protected a bit.  On my race day it was totally flat.   I was (am) a very nervous swimmer and felt very comfortable.  They had something like 40 buoys!  I hope they still do that.   Very comforting.

The bike is dead easy and the run is mostly rolling hills, but two good inclines.  Although I would rule it out because of that.

Also,  price, location, natural beauty.   

It's been 8 years since I did the race, so there's that grain of salt, but I've always heard good things.

2018-10-19 1:51 PM
in reply to: marysia83


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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
70.3 Wisconsin used to be in Racine and now is in Madison. Not sure if 2019 is the first Madison year or not. I haven't done any other Midwest 70.3's so I can't say one way or the other on those. However may I suggest 70.3 New Orleans? It used to be in April but I think they moved it to October so there should be plenty of time to train. Also the swim is in a harbor on lake Pontchartrain so water's really flat, if that's a concern, and your never more than a few yards from shore or a sea wall if swimming worries you. Bike and run course is super flat, the closest thing to a hill is probably a couple highway on ramps. Plus when you're done your'e in frickin' New Orleans.
2018-10-19 2:10 PM
in reply to: d.rock90

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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3

The New Orleans swim can be very hard.  FWIW, I know a couple of guys that raced it a couple of years ago, both uber swimmers. They said conditions were very tough on race day...one of their hardest swims.  One of the guys was first out of the water at Kona several years ago and the other one was 6th in the Oly trials 1500 one year.  It was a wetsuit swim with the April date.  I'm guessing it's probably still a wetsuit swim with the October date.

2018-10-19 3:37 PM
in reply to: JoelO

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1449
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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Thanks all for the suggestions!
Predicting swim is tricky. I swam and raced in Lake Michigan. Sometimes, even when it looks flat, it has horrible chops. Also, even in the smoothest conditions, you swim with a pack of folks, and half of them have no idea what they're doing, so managing anxiety, for beginners as well as experienced swimmers, may be the hard part I know for sue I don't feel like swimming in the Ocean. And not becuae of the sharks or waves. Because of the salt water... I cannot even imagine swimming in salt water..............
2018-10-19 11:11 PM
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Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
"The New Orleans swim can be very hard."

Serious question: what did they find so difficult? One year I did it in April was quite cold, around 51-52 degrees, but assumed by the new October date it be much warmer, so I didn't mention it. The water itself I remember as quite calm, although I admit it's been a few years since I did it.


For the record, for the original poster, I'm a Chicago guy and Lake Michigan is my home open water as well. But I've swam as late as November (in warm years) so I admit I'm a little nuts.

Edited by d.rock90 2018-10-19 11:11 PM


2018-10-20 9:09 AM
in reply to: marysia83

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
Calgary is maybe a bit far to go, but if you can find any other event with a similar swim in a small, manmade lake, chances should be maximized for a calm swim. In general, the bigger the lake, the more potential for chop. There is also a seaplane landing area on Lake CDA, and I don't believe it is closed for the race. If one of those comes in or takes off (it's pretty far out from the race course and you're not going to get landed on), you'll notice. Plus it's a bigger lake and mornings in that area tend to be breezy with winds off the Rockies.

Or maybe downriver in a river? I have never really done that, but it sounds fun. The Worlds swim at Chattanooga was opposite the normal one and mostly upriver--ugh! I think the run course was the same--would not discount that race. I didn't find the hills to be anything extreme. There were some long, gradual inclines and a few short, steep ones. Many people walked the latter, at least in the BOP where I was (sick with food poisoning and run was a death march). Nothing epic, and I liked the bridge crossings. Times were in the normal range for most people.

Ocean is rarely a good bet for a calm swim unless it is in a completely sheltered bay on a calm morning. Plus if you don't like salt water, maybe that is out? Honestly salt water itself has never been an issue for me. You can rinse your mouth out in transition; most events have freshwater showers to get it off your clothes/body. But surf, currents, etc. can be unpredictable and intimidating even for confident swimmers. I'm a good swimmer and been in lots of oceans, and I can still think of at least three races where I wasn't sure I could manage the swim, and one where I actually bailed and did the duathlon--combo of big surf and cold water, plus I wasn't impressed with the safety setup. Would not recommend ocean for your first 70.3!
2018-10-20 10:16 AM
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Master
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Sunny Southern Cal
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3

If you are not entirely set on doing a branded 70.3, then you can consider an independent one.  Someone posted a pretty comprehensive list of independent 70.3 races on the ST forum a while back.  Go to the triathlon forum and use the search feature to find  "Complete (mostly) list of Independent Half Distance Races".  Another poster on the thread created this map (Independent 70.3 Races - North America).  I'm sure you'll find a few within your travel zone.



Edited by SevenZulu 2018-10-20 10:17 AM
2018-10-20 11:05 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Great White North
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
FYI it's going to be August 11 in 2019, venue and race conflicts had to be resolved.

I race it the first year on the original much hillier course, it's absolutely flat the ride goes east into the prairie vs west into the mountains.
2018-10-21 8:36 AM
in reply to: simpsonbo

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Suggestions for the first 70.3
I have done both the old hillier bike course (2016) and the new flat one (2018). Not sure about next year! Between jobs; August might be too late for me depending on school year start, not sure about the OP. But definitely one of my favorite races!
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