Whenever things change there’s a natural tendency to be negative about it. That was definitely the feeling following last years race knowing the race was being taken on by the WTC. Certainly there’s a feeling that they will be looking to maximise profit. When we registered and found no competitors t-shirt this time it did make us wonder but now having completed the race I feel that overall the changes have definitely improved an already excellent race.
Firstly the swim was switched round so it went round the jetty the other way. This removed the ambiguity there used to be in the course. The transition was still pretty short and compact.
The bike course changes made the course slower and added a dead turn and some extra rises. It’s still fast but not as fast. There was a reduction in turns through town which was good. Overall I think the bike course was as good as last year.
The run course was much improved. 4 laps weaving a course along the sea and through town. There was never more than about 3km without something of interest. It made the run seem more manageable. It also went in to town each lap right past the finish and right by transition. It made it fantastic for supporters and for seeing your fellow competitors. The many out and back sections meant you could keep an eye on competitors within about 15 minutes of you but beyond that not necessarily. This was the only real negative of the course. I only saw Jo twice the whole run and at no point saw the leaders of the race. Overall though I think it was a better course, I’d sacrifice seeing the leaders for such a fun interesting course.
As for goodies – think it was better overall. The transition bags were mesh reusable bags. The finishers t-shirt was a nice technical shirt. Great finishers towel and one of the best medals I’ve had. They even made the bands you got for each lap those “Livestrong” style bands. The grandchildren of the people we stayed with thought they were superb. The number on the bike racking was a fridge magnet for you to take. M-dot branding gone bananas but a weirdly nice touch.
To cap it all was the awards banquet. Last years was good but they managed to improve on it. The marquee was very long with four sets of orange chinese lantern style lights running along the length. This gave a great feeling of perspective. The stage was in the middle and by the stage the lanterns had a big “M” hanging below so the lantern was the dot. It looked great. The Stage in the middle helped the flow of events as the presentations alternated between sides. There were massive screens periodically along the length which meant everyone had a great view. The food was really good with no queues. We never ran out of beer or wine. The speeches weren’t over long and the video of the race was excellent. I don’t know how they manage to put it together it such a short time. As the video ended, Mike Reilly appeared on a little stage at one end, spot light on him, he shouts “You are an Ironman” and the curtains behind him part, smoke rises, disco lights come on, loud music and we see the dance floor. SUPERB. Mike does an enthusiastic dance (I’ll leave it at that). I say to Jo – let’s go and dance. I know these things just need someone to start it and everyone will dance. So we walked up hand in hand in our Hawaiin shirts and danced for a couple of minutes before loads of other people came up. Good times !
Really … all awards banquets should be like this. Right out of the top drawer. It was made all the better when I found out the podium was down to 5th so I got a trophy.
This is really one top notch event. I think I would probably rank it as the best Ironman event I’ve done. We would both love to come back again next year but unfortunately the entries open up really early (ie next Wed) and I don’t know whether we will be able to afford to come, definitely won’t know whether we can by the time entries have closed. It’s a race I would do every year if it were closer to home. I fully recommend making the effort to get out and do this race.