Ironman Muncie 70.3 is a great race for many reasons, but mostly for the “hometown feel” you get when competing. My dad still talks about how great this race was before being bought by Ironman, and many other athletes seem to feel like it hasn’t changed despite having the Ironman name (well, except for the steeper registration fee!). Heck, the local church still offers cheap areas to sleep and houses across from the race site still offer parking in their lawns for a small fee. The volunteers and spectators here are incredible and constantly make you feel like you are the star of the show. And the race itself challenges you throughout the day.
New this year, the swim was self-seeded. Normally, this race is an age group start, meaning you start with others in the same age group as you and seed yourself accordingly amongst the group. This year, however, you lined up based on how fast you think you can swim 1.2-miles. Pros: you generally won’t have as many people to swim around if the majority of athletes actually seed themselves properly. Cons: you are racing against the clock as you have NO clue where your competitors lined up or how long they took to swim.
The swim is in the Prairie Creek Reservoir. More often than not, it is wetsuit legal (yay!). The sun always seems to hit you on the way back, so this is definitely a race where tinted goggles are recommended. There are eight yellow buoys to count before hitting the big red buoy to turn right. Then, you pass two more before seeing the 8 orange buoys to count again on your trip home.
Climbing out of the water, it’s a good 200-meter run on carpet until you hit transition. This area is often lined with spectators and volunteers and lots of cheers!
The bike course seems relatively simple on paper, but always seems to be more challenging than I remember. Basically, you ride out about five miles to US-30 and do two out-and-back loops before coming back in the way you went out. It’s nice to be able to see where others are, but it also causes quite a bit of congestion during the second loop.
The run is where the REAL fun begins. With limited shade and rolling hills, this run course is not considered easy. There are not very many turns on this out-and-back run, but the hills seem relentless as the miles progress. Fortunately, the aid stations are hit both running out and coming back in, but this year with hotter temperatures, many athletes seemed to wish there were more aide stations (to be fair, in years past, I don’t remember anyone complaining about lack of aide stations; I think this year was just super hot). The aide stations volunteers are great and options of water, Gatorade, Coke, Red Bull, and ice are offered at each one. Some aide stations also offered bananas, GUs, and cold towels.
As you approach mile 13, you climb up a hill and turn left to run down a crowd-filled grass path to finally cross the finish line. Volunteers greet you with your medal, hat, and ice cold water before you leave the finishing area to get to the post-race food: chicken, veggie burgers, rolls, applesauce, cookies, chips, bananas and oranges.