So it came to pass that after 28 hours of training logged in 6 days we awoke at 03:30 on the morning of the Honu (Turtle) Ironman 70.3. The first thing to say is that I loved this race. The second thing to say is that is not an easy race by any stretch of the imagination. It's an 1.9km ocean swim off Hapuna Beach with a long uphill run to transition. The 90km bike course is effectively half of the Ironman course and it takes you right on the Queen K before turning at Mauna Lani and riding to the turnaround at Hawi - this portion is effectively uphill and was into a head wind. Having turned at Hawi you come down again with a tail wind and some crosswinds before climbing again out of Kawaihae and turning right on the Queen K to ride back to T2 at Mauna Lani. The run is around a golf course and is a mix of grass and concrete and has a great many twists and turns, short downhills and tough short uphills. It is definitely not a fast run course and the temperature on the run was extremely hot. The organisation is slick and the aid stations are fantastic and plentiful with enthusiastic and numerous volunteers. The lead in to the race was relaxed and I (Neil) was probably the most unorganised I have been for any race but also probably the most relaxed. Mind you at least I remembered my nutrition - unlike Beth! I did give her one of my bottles and went and found some gels in the van - I'm all heart! The swim course is a rectangle and the swell was low today however I got smashed in the swim up to the first and second buoy but got some clear water for the rest of the swim. I was quite happy with my swim and felt good running into T1 I was 64th in my Age Group. I felt pretty flat on the bike and I don't think I have been passed by quite so many people on a bike leg before; however I kept thinking that I would come good and once we turned back onto the Queen K I started to move up places and started to feel strong; I came into T2 in 40th position. I had a slick transition but maybe too slick as I couldn't get my run cap on - the reason....I still had my helmet on! I quickly got this off and gave it to a volunteer. Straight away I felt good and continued to feel strong for the whole run. I wasn't overtaken once on the run and made my way up to 12th at the finish. All in all a hot, windy, tough day at the office but one I thoroughly enjoyed.
I (Beth) wish I could say I loved this race! I loved the camp leading up to it - I was prepared for a different experience and unfortunately expecting something on race day can be dangerous! It doesn't help when you forget your one bottle of nutrition! Swim was beautiful - crystal clear water and nice calm conditions helped- Bike... well, I don't have much to say about the bike. Started off slow and I am sure just felt harder and harder as the day went on (jumping gears never helps on a long ride, also bar tape came unloose so I looked like some 70's Huffy riding little girl with streamers). Run didn't get going until mile 7, but after that I felt better and better as the miles ticked off. It's a challenging race and I am sure in a few weeks I would consider doing it again. It is also the race that has put an end to the thought of ever trying to qualify for Kona!
After we all finished, we sat down for lunch and beer to watch the live band (with traditional Hawaiian dancers) and prize giving. The roll down slots came and went swiftly after this with all slots being snapped up immediately. Our last dinner at Mauna Lani was topped off with John handing out the last of camp prizes with everyone getting Epic Socks for completion of the camp. Mary Anne had been busy all day making Leis for everyone and Mark invited us back to watch a movie of photo clips he had been taking throughout the week. All in all a pretty good end to a fantastic week!