Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ironman Wales

Although I didn't race IM Wales, I was there cheering and got to experience the course first-hand. I rode the entire bike course, saw most of the run, and swam part of the course.

The swim was originally going to be held to the right of this castle-island. Stormy weather and high winds resulted in moving the swim here to calmer waters.

The swim was two loops around this small island rock. The water was not exceptionally cold (it was much warmer than Ireland). Moving the swim resulted in a very long 1k run to transition, but they also shortened the marathon by 1k to make up for this.

The bike starts out with a single loop out past the sea. For what this section of the course lacks in hills, it makes up for it with much stronger winds. And beauty.

Sections of the seaside ride are narrow.

 The views are amazing.

After the seaside loop, there is a loop to ride that is much hillier. And bonus - you get to do it twice! Much of the course has some tight narrow roads, many with tall hedges lining them. Descents can be fast, but most of them have a turn at the bottom, so speed is not carried onto the next climb. Right before hitting transition for the second time, there is a long climb packed with cheering fans. Definitely train on hills if you are planning to race Ironman Wales. There is over 6,000ft of climbing in the 112 mile bike.

Onto the run and if you brought spectators with you, they will love this course. The run is four loops that wind through the picturesque village of Tenby, so your friends will be able to cheer for you multiple times, while also finding plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants to hang out in while you trudge along.

When the tide is out, the boats rest on the sand.

And when it's in, it looks more like a typical harbor. Either way, you will get to enjoy this scenery four times as you run past.
The far left point in this image is a castle. You will run around it. Four times. It's also hilly.

And after all this hard work, you will turn to a very welcome site - the finish.

And should you wish to ice your legs post-race, the sea is just behind the finish line.

My personal thoughts on this race (without having actually raced it...) are that it has amazing scenery. If you want to experience Wales, an old historic town, and some absolutely breathtaking scenery - sign up. If you live in Iowa or somewhere flat, you will most likely have a VERY long day. But in the end, you will still be in Wales, so it might just be worth it!