Earlier this year, I completed Ironman Texas in the Woodlands. I had a great time and wanted to share some insights on why I think this race is so appealing.
Saving Time and Money
I think that being able to drive to a local race instead of flying is really appealing for someone and here’s why. These races aren’t cheap and anyway you can find a way to save money is a plus. Having your own personal vehicle and not having to ship your bike makes all the difference in the world. I like that this is one of the few races that is still on Saturday than Sunday. It has been a while since I have done an Ironman race, but I do not remember having the ability to talking to the Pro’s during the Pro Panel (there wasn’t one in previous Ironman races) and having a “Free Banquet” for all the athlete’s. The banquet had some good “Free” food too – beef tenderloin, multiple different salads, fruits, vegetables, all kinds of desserts, and drinks. Did I mention that you could return for seconds too. During the banquet all kinds of items were talked about like who are the youngest and oldest person that are participating in the race and why, who lost the most weight, do you remember when you sign up for an Ironman race 70.3 or 140.6 they ask you about your story. This is where these stories are told and some of them are just inspiring. Most everyone goes to the banquet to see new and old friends that are participating in the race, and did I mention that the food is free too. Any time, that you can save money is a plus and the last time I looked Ironman usually doesn’t give you anything for free.
Fan Support and Volunteers
There are some ironman races that are just OK, some that are good, and some that are excellent. This one I would have to put in the excellent category. The reason being is that the whole city gets behind it, the volunteers are just excellent, and the fan support from the swim, bike, and run were the best that I have seen anywhere from 70.3’s (have done 6 in the past all over the country) to 140.6. (done 2 before this one). The fan support makes this one of the best Ironman race so much so that Ironman athletes stated so in 3 categories in 2017 – Best Overall Run, Best Host City Experience, and Best Post Race Celebration as I couldn’t agree more, and I will continue to do this race for as long as I can. I would also add because this is somewhat of a local race less than 3hrs from Austin that your loved ones and friends will be able to watch you in person at the race if they decide they want too.
The swim is in Lake Woodlands can be wetsuit legal or non-wetsuit legal. It’s a rolling start which means you start at approximately the time it takes you to swim 2.4 miles. The buoys are on the left throughout the course when you make the turn into the canal approx. half to three quarters of mile from the finish it gets crowded since it isn’t as wide as when you’re in the lake the plus side is that you are able to draft on other swimmers to go faster and use less energy. Another plus coming into the finish since this is a canal you will see fan support lining the sides of the canal cheering for everyone, in my book this pretty.
The Bike course is on Hardy Toll Road which is closed to traffic for this race and only medical staff, race officials, and race participates can be on this road. The surface is very smooth on the toll road. The toll road is flat and fast. The aid/water/special needs stations are approx. 15 miles apart from each other. Approx. elevation gain 2,375ft. You will do 2 loops which will be 100 miles before heading back to the bike finish and transition area for the run.
The run course is 3 loops around the Lake Woodlands and through some neighborhoods. The aid stations are about a mile apart from the each other with all your favorites – water, Gatorade, cola, Red Bull, banana’s, pretzels, chips, soup broth at night, etc. The fan support for the run course is outstanding as people are lined up all around it and more around the restaurants and waterway path system area as you run by as the energy in these areas are party atmosphere and helps you get through the run easier. This is one of my favorite run courses for any of the Ironman races. The run up the shoot for the finish line is lined with many fans, family members and friends waiting for you to cross that finish line as it’s a party atmosphere and fun one at that too.
I hope to see everyone again next year. Good luck in your triathlon journey!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Mike is a veteran of multiple 140.6 races, 70.3s, olympics, and sprints. He joined Austin Tri Club in fall 2017, soon after its launch. Next up for Mike is Ironman Buffalo Springs 70.3, Ironman Chattanooga, and then Ironman Waco 70.3.
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