Author: Jeremy Granger
Date I Attended: September 27, 2015
Location: Augusta, GA
Website: Ironman 70.3 Augusta
Description: The race starts with a 1.2-mile swim downstream in the Savannah River, continues with a 56-mile bike ride through the rolling countryside and finally a 13.1-mile, 2-loop run that is flat and winds through Historic Downtown Augusta. It has one of the largest fields on the Ironman 70.3 circuit and usually sells out very quickly.
Opinion: I really enjoyed this event, the swim was very easy and downstream in the Savannah River. I am a 35 - 40-minute lake swimmer and I came out of the water in 26 minutes, so this is a great race for beginners or those who struggle with the swim. You start by jumping off a dock into the river and swimming an almost straight line downstream before making a quick right to come out at a boat ramp. While swimming, I encountered some floating debris, mainly aquatic plants, and spotting wasn't necessary since you could easily follow the shoreline to the right.
The transition was in a grassy field, which was fine since it was mostly dry the week I was there. However, if it has been raining, you can expect the area to be a mud pit with nearly 3000 participants running through. As usual, Ironman had more than enough port-a-johns for the race so that you could easily find an empty one. Both the entrance and exits were well marked and should you get confused there are plenty of volunteers to point you in the right direction.
I can't say that it was my favorite bike ride, I prefer more scenic routes such as St. George, Couer d'Alene or Lake Placid. The course was mostly through the surrounding countryside with short rolling hills, trees, and farmland. It was easy to navigate with long stretches where you didn't have to worry about making sharp turns and when there were turns or intersections, police officers controlled the traffic well.
The run course was a lot of fun, and we ran back and forth along the roads through the well maintained historic section of Augusta. There was a massive cheer squad that spread out along almost every part of the course. As far as aid stations, there was one about every mile that was well-stocked with fruits, gels, sports drinks, cola, water and Red Bull. They had a great finish line at Augusta Common, with more than enough food, drinks and volunteers to help you out.
Parking in the morning was challenging, there wasn't a dedicated spot, so you had to find a place at a business that allowed you to leave your vehicle, on the grass or along the road at various points. I found leaving the race was very challenging. My family and I had reservations on Hilton Head Island for a couple of days after the race, and I wanted to get out as soon as possible, but it took me over an hour to get my stuff. I had to walk the mile plus back to transition for my bike only to realize that my morning clothes bag was back at the finish line. They had them hidden behind a wall, which I'm sure was for security, but there wasn't any indication of where to go to pick up your stuff once you finished. Even after getting my bike, car, driving back toward the finish line, parking outside the race route, walking to the finish area, I had to ask several volunteers and eventually a participant to find where they were hiding our morning clothes bags.
Other than parking and finding my morning clothes, the event was very well organized with plenty of volunteers and aid stations along the way. We stayed in Aiken, about 45 minutes east, however I would recommend staying near the start/finish area and leaving after the race if possible. That will solve any issues with departing and getting your belongings.
Would I recommend this race? Absolutely. It was very well organized, had a great finisher's medal and a massive cheer squad throughout the run. It is also a great race for first time 70.3ers. The swim was effortless, and if you have a 5 mm wetsuit you can practically float the 1.2 miles, the bike didn't have any hills that left permanent imprints in my memory and the run was flat and scenic.
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