Author: Jeremy Granger
Date I Attended: May 16, 2015
Location: The Woodlands, TX
Website: Ironman Texas
Description: Athlete check-in is located in the Waterway parking lot near The Woodlands Waterway Marriott where the pre-race banquet is held. Mandatory bike and run gear check-in was adjacent to the Mitchell Pavillion in 2015 but has since been split between the North Lake Park and Town Green Park. In 2015, the 2.4-mile swim was a point-to-point from North Lake Park to Town Green Park, which hosted T1 and T2. Swimmers had to exit the water from the channel using a set of metal stairs that were designed specifically for the race. The swim course has since been changed to entering and exiting at North Lake Park.
Upon exiting the water, athletes were guided through a chute to their bike gear and the changing tent. The 112-mile, one loop bike course was through the rolling countryside west of the Woodlands. Once finished with the ride, volunteers helped athletes with their bike and pointed them toward their run gear and changing tent.
The 3-loop run course circled the lake and waterway and was run almost entirely on the greenways. Athletes finished the course along Waterway Square Place. Once completing the race, there was close to a mile walk back to T1/T2 to pick up your bike and gear.
Opinion: I loved this race, mostly due to the choice of the venue. Even though the weather was hot and humid, we had nasty rain before the event and T1/T2 was a mud pit, I had a blast. The Woodlands is a modern, planned community with upscale shopping, a waterway with a ferry, plenty of greenways, hotels, and restaurants. Needless to say, there was no shortage of things to do after checking-in; I even made it to the Kennedy Space Center before I flew home.
I did find myself walking a lot before this race. Parking was a little difficult around the waterway, so I parked at the mall most of the time.
On race morning, there was a good half mile walk from my car to transition and another half mile from the transition to the swim start. In fact, I had walked so much in my Vibrams or barefoot, that my feet were started hurting by the time I got to the swim start. My foot trouble during this race was entirely my fault; I had turned my running shoes in with my gear before the race and the only extra shoes I brought were my Five-Finger Vibrams, which I only wear when I'm going to be walking in the water a lot.
The swim was good, it was a little on the warm side and not wetsuit legal. Texas is warm/hot in May, and I wouldn't ever plan for this to be a wetsuit swim unless you don't mind starting in the back. I'm glad they changed the swim exit; I sliced my big toe open on the metal steps getting out of the waterway. Also, with the violent rains the transition area was a mud pit and North Lake Park, where T1 is now, is paved and, athletes don't have to worry about riding 112 miles with mud all over their shoes, socks, and legs.
I enjoyed most of the 112-mile bike ride. My foot arches started bothering me around mile 70 from all the walking I did in my Vibrams. The route took cyclist through the rolling countryside past farmlands and a state park. The last 20 miles weren't my favorite, it was through town outside of The Woodlands and didn't offer much to look at. Once I got back to transition, I could barely walk. I was helped to the medic tent where they wrapped my feet for some arch support.
Although the run took me over six hours with my battered feet, it was awesome. The lake was fun to run around, we went through an upscale housing development and then ran along the waterway. The cheer squad was fantastic; they had one section called slingshot corner where enthusiastic college students chased and cheered you on. All along the waterway, families and spectators gathered to watch and support exhausted athletes. If you were like me and continued into the night, you were given a glow necklace so they could find you if you passed out in the bushes. Even at 9 pm, the finish line was packed with spectators encouraging you to finish strong.
Would I recommend this race? Definitely. Ironman Texas is one of my favorite Ironman's to talk about. I had so many things go wrong that it is funny looking back at it.
1. I sliced my big toe getting out of the water.
2. I bruised my arches and could hardly walk during the run.
3. On the second lap of the run, I had the medics take my bandages off so I could move faster and they took several layers of skin off with the bandages.
4. While at the medic tent for the second time, we forgot to put my timing chip back on for the last two laps, I was a DNF for about a week until Ironman and I got things worked out.
5. Transition lost my swim gear/running bag.
6. I wasn't showing up on live tracking, and my family thought I was in the hospital.
7. My cell phone battery was dead when I got back to my car, and I couldn't call anyone to let them know I was alive until I was back at my hotel room.
Of all the Ironman events I've done, Ironman Texas had my favorite run course. It was mostly flat; it is always nice running around a lake, and the crowd certainly got into motivating athletes.