Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dream Ironman Race

I was reading Jeff from Dangle The Carrot's post today in which he was talking about two new Ironman races - One in Quebec, Canada and one in New York City.  Right off the bat, I decided that the Quebec race sounded very appealing but the New York race sounded appalling.  Quebec is beautiful, almost European like.  It sounds like a perfect place to race to me.  New York is beautiful too, but in it's own unique way.  And in the spirit of New York's "own unique way", dealing with an Ironman within the city limits (never mind crossing in to New Jersey) seems to me like a frustrating proposition at best.

I had an hour to kill on a flight from Oakland to Orange County this evening, so I started to think about what the perfect local Ironman might look like.  Since I live in Huntington Beach, I naturally decided that focusing the race in downtown HB made sense.  Has anyone run the Surf City Marathon?  The transition area would be where the marathon's race expo is, and the finish line would be at the pier.

Laying out the swim and run was easy.  For the swim, I worked backwards and found the point 2.4 miles down the beach from the transition area.  Presto! I had my swim start.  For the run, the distance between the Santa Ana River and The San Gabriel River is conveniently just over 13 miles.  So the run is one big loop - bookended by two rivers - along Pacific Coast Highway.

Mapping out the bike course would be the hardest part because judging 112 mile cycling routes in and around Orange County isn't something I do every day.  But I though about it for awhile and figured out something I thought would be pretty close.  And it was - except for a few confusing twists and turns in the last 10 miles, it's one big loop and worked out to within a half mile.

Since this is a fantasy race, I did take some liberties.  For example, part of the bike course is on a freeway.  Also, I'd either have to be the absolute best salesman in the world or have Jedi Mind Tricks at my disposal when pitching the course to city and county officials.  Because I doubt I could get them to come close to shutting down the roads I would need closed for the day.

I plotted it all out on, check it out:


As I mentioned, the swim was pretty easy to figure out.  The buoy line would be about 300 yards offshore.  This is far enough out to be well beyond the outside surf break, even on the most epic of surfing days - Huntington Beach is "Surf City USA", after all.  Here's a bonus - the prevailing currents tend to move north.  This will be a fast swim.


Sorry about all the markers on the map, it makes it a little confusing.  But let me explain the course to you because it's pretty awesome, and also pretty tough.

From the transition area, the course starts by heading south down Pacific Coast Highway before turning inland on the Santa Ana River trail about 2.5 miles from the start.

Then for the next 26 miles you are on a bike path.  The good news is that it's fast and flat.  You'll probably also have a tail wind.  The bad news is that it's narrow - so if you get caught behind slow riders, passing could be tough.

At about mile 28, you finally get off the path.  This is where I took my liberties, and you now turn south onto a freeway.  But it's a freeway over a small mountain range, and for the next 6 or 7 miles you are climbing.  When you finally crest, you've got a few miles of downhill before turning southeast into Santiago Canyon.  And once in the Canyon, you've got a good 30 miles of circuitous and undulating terrain as you make your way back to the coast at Dana Point.

From Dana Point, you head north.  You are now back on Pacific Coast Highway.  This means another 10 miles of undulating terrain through San Juan Capistrano and Monarch Beach.  Though it's very scenic, you most likely will be riding into a headwind.

When you reach Laguna Beach, you'll head inland again through Laguna Canyon.  It's a slight but steady climb for the next 7 miles.  But from there, you'll get a nice downhill into Irvine and then it flattens out, at least for awhile.

At about Mile 92, you'll hit the last climb on San Joaquin Road.  It's short - maybe a mile.  But it's steep and probably the last thing that you want to see at this point in the race.  Luckily, when you hit height-of-land, you'll take a right and bomb down Newport Coast Drive back to Pacific Coast Highway.

From there it's nearly a straight shot north back to Huntington Beach.  There are a few detours into Costa Mesa to add some distance, but you'll know you've got two miles to go when you see the Santa Ana River.  You've just done about 4500 feet of climbing.


In contrast to the bike course, the run is pretty simple.  Once out of the transition area you'll head north for 10 miles through Sunset Beach and Seal Beach.  At mile 10 you'll u-turn, head back the way you came, pass the transition area and run along what was the beginning of the bike course.  At mile 23, you'll u-turn again and run the last 3.2 miles to the finish at the Huntington Beach pier.

Sound any good?  Let me know.

And if you have the time to obsessively plot out a course and then post about it, I'd love to see what you could get going in your corner of the world....


misszippy said...

Fun you just need to contact the WTC, right? At first I was thinking that NYC would be pretty cool. Then I thought about Lake Placid, which I did, and decided that one of the best aspects was the beauty of the rural course. I just can't really imagine the bike in NYC/NJ. Anyhow, I think Quebec will be pretty nice.

On another note--I mentioned to jeff that one thing I am wondering about is how many IM races there are room for? The slots are getting incredibly spread out. It's going to get down to 1/2 slot per age group pretty soon!

KovasP said...

What a fun exercise! Maybe, to get around the political snafus inherent, you do the run in those giant water balls and then the bike on those pontoon bikes. 100% Pacific Ocean, no road closures!

No way to do this in Chicago, but you might be able to pull it off in Milwaukee or Lake Geneva maybe.

Joel said...

I think it's fun to do this. I did something similar with a potential 70.3 course here in Florida. I had the same problems (interstates). I think it would be fun, though, to draft off an 18-wheeler!

Unknown said...

That is pretty awesome! You should submit it this course to Rev3 - some needs another full out in Socal.

Caratunk Girl said...

I LOVE this.

I think there should be a tri in Caratunk. Plotting out an Iron Distance is tough, but I have a half iron distance in mind.

NYC? Not interested. IMMT? I am going, at the very least as a volunteer. That place is freaking awesome.

Aimee said...

That would be an awesome race!!!

Tri4Success said...

The course sounds good to me. No way I'd map something out here though. There's already a high-profile Oly distance just a couple miles from my house and it has enough issues with the bike route. Good long bike routes are hard to find anywhere near Dallas. Either too many road closures needed or the road surface is harsh.

NattyBumpo said...

Looks like fun except for that Swim part and the bike ride part.

Emz said...

Omgosh. No more down time for you.
It's scary how awesome it is though!


I. So. Freaking. Win.
What did I win?

Jennifer said...

Are you sure you only had an hour to kill? And what's wrong with New Jersey!!!

XLMIC said...

I could never do this kind of race. Swimming in the ocean totally freaks me out. But… I thought up an IM course right here where I live…just walk out our gate to the bay… leg #1: swim across the bay over to the dog park and back (really close to 2.4mi RT), transition from shore to gate, start bike inside the gate and do 186.7 laps (it's a 0.6-mile loop…finish/next transition would be in front of my house so you could grab a snack and use the real bathroom if needed), transition in front of my house, run 35 loopty-loop figure eighty-eights that are 0.75 mi…taaa-daaaaa… No road closure permits needed because my neighbors are NEVER around. Sounds pretty freakin awesome, no? Yeah…it sounds pretty sucky :P Yours sounds much more enjoyable…for that sort of thing.

NattyBumpo said...

The part that XLMIC is leaving out of her's is that it would be filmed, at night, and all contestants would be wearing skirts.

Patrick Mahoney said...

She probably just ran out of space, or we are all meant to understand that as a foregone conclusion. "Oh cool, the kids are asleep, time to go bust out an a skirt."

Andrew Opala said...

What do you do when you have TWO hours on a plane?

XLMIC said...

I was going to treat you all to the first ever B.S. Micro-Tri next Tuesday (with B.S. standing for barefoot/skirt and not bullshit). But clearly y'all are over my antics so I'll just put that skirt away now and think up something equally stupid. I mean trendy.

Jill said...

Are their prizes?

valen said...

I'll see what I can do in 1 hour... maybe a swim-run?

krystyna47 said...

Oh my gosh, this is what I daydream about pretty much every day... but never in this much detail. I sooooo want to be a race director, but actually one that puts on "secret races". People sign up with their mobile numbers, and a week before the race (wherever and whenever it might be), I send them all a text of location, date and time. Some are casual run races on trails, others are off-road or perhaps on-road tris, just OWS. All you have to do is rock up with your gear and be ready to either do a full tri (of varying distance, but maxing at half-iron) or one of the legs of a tri (swim, bike, or run, or just 2 of those). I have NO idea if this is possible, but that is the gist of the organization I want to set up when I move back to New Zealand. It would be BALLER if it became successful!

Chris K said...

Too bad Surf City didn't employ your course. Looks way better than all that zig-zagging we do late in the race on the narrow bike lanes.

If I ever did an IM, I would most certainly choose your Patrick.

Unknown said...

Sign me up! :)


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