Ironman 70.3 World Championship (Nice, France)

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NICE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 08: Athletes compete in the bike leg of the the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Men in Nice on September 08, 2019 in Nice, France. (Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
 

It was a privilege to participate and complete this race. I am ecstatic to have raced among the fastest women in the sport. I was inspired and amazed at the level of competition, the fitness of these athletes, and the sportsmanship. It was a challenging course but the views of the French alps and the Mediterranean Sea made up for it. Absolutely breathtaking.

Athletes have to qualify to participate in the 70.3 world championship, and every year it’s in a different location. This year it was in Nice, France. Close to 5,000 athletes participated in this year’s event. The women’s race was Saturday and the men’s race was on Sunday.  

The temperatures in the French Riviera this time of year is in high 70’s. The skies were blue and the Mediterranean Sea was mostly calmed. This is my first time qualifying for worlds and I learned a lot from the experience.  

I made the decision to bring my own bike. I use a bike bag that is very convenient, and many airlines no longer charge for bikes fees. However getting around with a bike bag and luggage in and out of airports and train stations can be exhausting. Another option is shipping your bike or using TriBike transport.

The logistics of this race were cumbersome with two separate transitions and high security. We spent several hours checking in and picking up packets. Bike check in the day before the race was mandatory. Nice is an delightful beach town not built for a big Ironman race at this level, but they truly tried to cater to the athletes. We basically took over the town. 

Swim

The swim takes place in the Mediterranean Sea and the weather in France has been significantly warmer than usual. Most athletes were anticipating a non-wetsuit event, but the rain on Friday brought some cool temperatures and Saturday morning they announced it will be wetsuit legal for the women. I lined myself in the back of my wave knowing these were very fast women and I wanted to minimize contact in the water. The water was warm, clear and a little choppy as you got farther from the beach. The course was shaped as a triangle with two right turns. Coming back after the second turn made it difficult for sighting.  I struggled to swim straight but overall felt happy with my time. 

The beast of a bike course

This was a challenging and technical course. The first 28 miles are a climb at about seven percent grade, followed by about 15 miles of descents, with switchbacks and speed bumps along the way as we made our way back to Nice thru a small little town. The last 10 miles of the course are relatively flat. I knew the course was technical therefore I brought my road bike. In hindsight I could have used my TT bike. Unfortunately there were some serious accidents on this course. Good bike-handling skills are a must for this type of course. 

Run

The run takes place on the beach promenade, and was a fast and flat two loops. My feet were not happy with me, between traveling overseas and excessive walking during the days prior to the race. My run suffered but I was so distracted by the crowds, cheers and the views that I just simply ran steady to the finish.

This race was far from my PR in fact it was my slowest 70.3, but it  was a once-in-lifetime experience that I will remember for many years to come. 

I had a wonderful time in France and the race itself was amazing, but I was a bit disappointed with Ironman in terms of logistics and their organization. Volunteers were wonderful but they did not seem to know anything about the race. Between poor communication, language barriers, and logistics, my anxiety was high. In addition, they ran out of medals and finisher hats and tees for the last waves. At this level that should not have happened. I am sure Ironman will rectify this but in the meantime there were a lot of unhappy athletes.

In a few words, Nice 70.3  had  a spectacular swim in the Mediterranean Sea. Epic climb in the French Alps. Beautiful run on the beach promenade. I highly recommend it In fact I might not ever go home.

Cheers

Erika

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