IAN HENDERSON AND BEN WRIGHT COMPLETE AUGUSTA IRONMAN 70.3

Ben Wright and Ian Henderson survived the current in the Savannah River, over eager spectators and a hilly bike course to complete the Augusta, Georgia Ironman 70.3 this Sunday 28th September.

Ian was 80th ( 5hrs 43 mins 31 secs) and Ben 105th ( 6 hrs 04 mins 40 secs) in the mens 30-34 age group for the 1.2 mile swim 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.

Here is Ian’s race report :

We started around 9:10 am (almost 2 hours after the pros and first age groupers!) meaning we knew  from the start we’d be hitting the run at the hottest part of the day!  But we wouldn’t let that deter us as we set off down the river Savannah for the first 1.2 miles.  The swim was downstream, with a current of around 1mph.  The swim was also wetsuit legal, but I decided against it as I prefer to swim without.  On the swim, I had plenty of open water and no contact at all.  It’s a straight swim and you can see the end from the start.  I was out the swim and into T1 in 25 minutes, posting the 18th quickest swim time for the 30-34 age group.  

On the bike, given how late our swim wave was, I forever seemed to be shouting “left” as I was passing those in front.  The cycle heads out of Georgia in a North Easterly direction into South Carolina.  The first 18 miles or so were near pan flat and progressing smoothly, albeit into a headwind that would forever seem to be with us.  From about mile 20, the rolling hills of the South Carolina countryside kicked in.  I definitely underestimated how hilly the course would be and there was  more climbing than the elevation chart suggested!  Those middle 20 miles killed the thighs, but the last 16 miles or so were predominantly downhill, so was able to get some recovery in on the bike.

Posting a 2:52 on the bike (63rd in the age group), however would have liked to have gone quicker had the course not been so busy.

Off on the run at around 12:45pm, just as the weather started to heat up.  We’d been fortunate with the weather as it was largely overcast with not too much humidity, but when the sun did break through, it was hitting the low 80s.  Coming from Bermuda, the conditions were perfect.  

The run course was pan flat – imagine running 13.1 miles on Kindley Field (Ed. airport runway).  The course was 2 loops of the Augusta town center, with people out cheering in masses (often venturing onto the route much to this triathlete’s annoyance!).  First loop of the run (around 6 miles) was relatively pain and incident free; however the second loop welcomed the onset of calf and stomach cramping, slowing the pace down and walking all the aid stations with a run inbetween.  With the end in sight, it was all about getting to the end in one piece and enjoying it – rolling over the finish line in 5:43, and straight into the medical tent for my standard IV drip!

The race itself is very well organized – the best I’ve been to.  The local support is very vocal (at times on the run course it felt like something from the Tour de France with all the spectators being so close they can pat you on the back), and all very welcoming.  The race is the second biggest event in Augusta after some golf competition !  There’s a good mixture of athletes there – lots of newbies and first timers, as well as seasoned triathletes looking for PBs.  Anyone who has swimming as a weakness and running as a strength would love this race as it has the potential to produce a very fast time.  

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