California Ironman 70.3
Saturday March 27th.
A good early season test. The race is held each year in Oceanside, CA. One of the few Hawaii Ironman qualifiers that is not a full Ironman distance, the race attracts a large, competitive field.
I did this race 7 years ago. I couldn’t get over how much Oceanside has changed in that time. Lots of new developments, a more upscale feel than before – but still most definitely a SoCal beach town.
The swim takes place in Oceanside Harbor. It’s a deep water start – which I definitely prefer to the more traditional “run down the beach and dolphin through the waves” start. You swim about half a mile out toward the breakwater, turn around and swim back. Since you’re inside the harbor the whole swim, the water is very calm. No big breakers or noticeable currents. Water temp was listed at 59 degrees – but it didn’t feel that cold.
You exit the swim course at the boat ramp, and there are a lot of volunteers there to help you to your feet and unzip the back of your wetsuit. Nice touch!
The swim goes off in 20 waves 3 minutes apart. So, it got a little crowded in the water on the swim back in, as one wave after another catches the previous waves – and you’ve got some swimmers doing the side stroke, breast stroke, etc. with big wide kicks. Watch out!
But, overall, a very pleasant and relatively easy swim.
The bike course was, for me at least, the highlight of the course. The first 20 miles or so, you head north along Pacific Coast Hwy, past the nuclear plant at San Onofre, on up to San Clemente. Then, you turn inland onto Camp Pendleton. It’s unusual to see a warning for a “Tank Crossing” on a bike course! The inland part of the bike course features a number of rollers and two pretty good climbs – the first is similar in steepness to Toro Canyon, but not as long. It was warm, green from all the rains, and very pretty. The bike course is closed to traffic for most of the way. It was very windy on the inland part of the bike course – several big gusts that almost knock you over. But, fortunately, the wind was either a cross-wind or – on the last part of the ride back to T2 – at our back.
The run is “just a run” – nothing fancy. The run course is a double loop, out and back. You run along the beach strand, so between race spectators, sun-bathers (and, being a warm day, there were a lot of those!) and people just out for a nice day, there is a lot going on during the run. The run is pretty flat, with two very slight inclines.
Overall, I think this is an “A+” event. If you have an inkling to do a half-ironman event, I recommend this one. But, sign up early, because this race sells out quickly.
Club members who did the race this year (that I am aware of) were Gary Maxwell (3rd Age Group), Leanne Clark, Craig Spreadbury and me. Craig’s wife Joslyn was there in her SB TriClub top cheering us on. Craig scorched the course in 4:28 for 52nd place overall! Others included Juleann Lum, Vic Birtalan, Dan McCluskey and Zach Komon.