Ironman New Orleans 70.3 Course Review
Ahh…the big easy. New Orleans is one of the most storied cities in the United States. Some of the stories stem from the French heritage and are fun and others have their roots in natural disasters and are painful. But they all meld together to create a city with an enormous amount of character. Many people on the East Coast use the New Orleans 70.3 to kick off the season and get an early sense of their fitness. Coeur has had a couple of our ambassadors race in the “Big Easy” and here’s our review of this stop on the Ironman 70.3 tour.
Getting there. If you don’t drive, you’ll likely end up flying into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. The three letter identifier code for the airport is MSY. Fun fact, the MSY stands for Moisant Stock Yards. That information won’t help you at all during the race but it may help you later in a game of trivia! In any event, MSY is in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and is about 11 miles west of downtown New Orleans. Most major airlines fly in and shuttles and rental cars are abundant.
The weather. Be prepared for humidity. While the temperatures can look reasonable on paper (probably mid 70’s to low 80’s), the humidity changes everything. Sweat doesn’t evaporate and the air can feel heavy.
Originally, the swim was in Lake Pontchartrain. Unfortunately, very tough conditions caused enough trouble to convince race organizers to move the swim to the South Shore Harbor. This should make for a calmer swim but it also makes for a unique course. By the way, there’s a decent chance that the swim will be wetsuit legal, so it probably makes sense to go ahead and throw yours into the bag.
The swim course looks like an M and it stays within the walls of the marina. There’s a 600 meter walk to the start and everyone lines up in corrals. When the race starts, athletes will be released in small groups about every 10 seconds. As a reminder, only the yellow buoys indicate turns. The orange ones are for sighting and there is no requirement to be on one side or the other of an orange buoy. Once you’ve finished drawing the “M”, you’ll exit the swim course and have a fairly short, couple hundred foot jog into transition.
The bikearooski. The bike is a one loop, out and back. We were about to mention that it is 56 miles but we think you probably already know that! It’s generally flat except for a few “Florida Hills”. What? Never heard of that before? Overpasses. There are small climbs up to the highway overpasses. The course has been known to be windy so be prepared for some very uneven splits. You will get a bit of scenery as your ride out of town and into the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. One of our ambassadors reported that they were short of water on the bike course the year she raced. Race strategy is between you and your coach but keep that in mind. It would suck to be out on a humid day without enough water.
The big runbowski. Two important notes on the run. First, we’ve heard that the finish has been moved to City Park. This is disappointing since a finish in the French Quarter is the best. The second note is that, according to the event site “No form of locomotion other than running, walking or crawling is allowed.” So, be forewarned in case you planned on skipping or hopping the 13.1 mile run.
Ok, as for the run itself, when you leave transition, you head out onto Stars and Stripes blvd. You go up one of the small inclines and continue over the Ted Hickey Bridge before turning right onto Lake Shore Drive. You’ll wind through town on this generally flat course and if the temperature and humidity isn’t out of control, you may be able to PR. It’s that kind of course. The finish line is at Popps Fountain and then it’s time to celebrate your great day. As we mentioned, the finish isn’t in the French Quarter but the good news is that the event organizers have tried to take care of that issue.
Postracetastic time. Shuttle buses are scheduled to run from City Park to the French Quarter Festival for any athlete and his or her family members that wish to go to the festival following the event. In addition, they extended the bike check out time on Sunday evening from 6:00pm to 8:00pm so you have some time to celebrate before coming back to get your bike. Just remember…no riding after you’ve had that celebratory drink!
So that’s our review. We hope it is helpful. Also, if you see someone else in a Coeur Kit during the race, give them some encouragement. And as always, race with heart and courage!