Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ironman China - my review for Active.com

(Photo courtesy of @brybrarobry)

Carmen and I on the Bike course tour.














Not a bad race but massive room for improvement. It was a tough day mainly due to the weather - 38C and really really strong side winds.

The conditions weren't helped by the fact that the aid stations were every 15k on the bike and every 2k on the run. They needed to be every 10k and 1k respectively - not doing so is bordering on dangerous and a disgrace since they were told this last year.

Flimsy plastic bottles for the water on the bike meant that they disintegrated as soon as you grabbed them - would it have been too much to ask to have proper cycling water bidens?

This whole mess was made even worse as very few of the drinks were cooled and most were positively hot - imagine overheating on the run in 38C when already dehydrated due to too few water stations only to find super hot water, Gatorade and cola as your "thirst quencher"? Not smart, not funny and I'll say it again - dangerous (many athletes collapsed and/or pulled out due to dehydration and heat stroke).

On the plus side the volunteers were awesome, they struggled to understand what anyone wanted as English was nonexistent but their enthusiasm and friendliness more than made up for it.

The finish and the spectators at the finish were awesome although the post race food was a joke.

I thought the swim was going to be a disaster (4 loops around a "Y" shaped course) but in fact it worked beautifully with waves of 5 athletes going off every 5 seconds - it may have been different if there were more athletes though.

Race hotel was rubbish by Asian standards, nothing for a family to do, 10k from transition and a rip-off as soon as you want to buy anything. Mini-bars are often expensive but USD5 for a MINI Snickers bar (not even a regular sized one for goodness sake). Come on that just leaves a horrible feeling that you're being extorted.

Strangely though Internet access was free, although the silly, paranoid Chinese Government have blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, YouTube to name but a few - yet you can still get all these things on a smart phone, so what's the point?

Would I do this race again? NO WAY. Emphatically NO

I'd have said "Yes, reluctantly" to try to qualify for Hawaii but I've never seen a stronger field of Age-groupers in any of my 16 Ironmans - it was like the stars of Ironman age-groupers had all made a pact to race in China.

FULL RACE REPORT LATER

3 comments:

Stemmet said...

Simon
Very interesting, can't wait for full report.
Johan

Brybrarobry said...

S, very concise and highly accurate report. The only thing I'd add to your great volunteers was the course was extremely well marked and road were clean.

I was talking to my 8 time Ironman buddy Jamie last night and he made an interesting observation. In all his years, other than one guy, he's never met a Kona qualifiers that have fun or a personality. haha. I laughed because I told him that prior to the race it was a serious and unfeastive race. Afterwards, I never seen so many Kona shirts at the airport.

I'm with you, I'd never do that race again. Unless they moved it outside of China. haha.

B

Anonymous said...

Simon, at least you have bottles for bike! Weren't any last year except gatorade bottles. @1renetan