Race Review. Ironman 70.3 San Juan
The triathlon world tour is in full swing now and attention turns to the Ironman 70.3 in San Juan this weekend. When we were in Atlanta, we made the trip down to San Juan fairly frequently. We’re sure some will disagree but we think the beaches in the Caribbean are as beautiful as those in Hawaii. Plus, there are some amazing attractions in Puerto Rico. So with all of that as context, here’s the Coeur review of the race and a few thoughts on Puerto Rico itself.
Getting there. Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, so you won’t need any special documentation if you are a U.S. National. The airport is officially called the San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and the three letter identifier is SJU. Most of the major airlines fly into SJC, so getting there shouldn’t be a problem.
The host hotel is the Caribe Hilton which is about seven miles from the airport. We stayed at the Caribe several years ago and found it to be…well…just fine. It was in need of a bit of a refresh but it wasn’t bad. We know that isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement but, hey, we’re just sharing our perspective. If you do want to get a more boutique hotel feel you might want to check out the La Terraza. It’s in Old Town and we think it provides more of a local feel.
Ok…let’s talk about the race. First, you can expect that it will be hot. Temperatures in the high 80’s or low 90’s are not uncommon, so be prepared. Have a hydration plan and try to stick to it.
The swimola. The 1.2 mile swim starts in Condado Lagoon. The water should be fairly calm for most of the swim since the lagoon is well protected. There are rocks on the right that block the waves and the Puente Dos Hermanos bridge is on the left. We’ve heard there can be small rocks near the start, so you might consider bringing a pair of throw away flip flops to walk to the start. The swim goes past the bridge and you might see some swells there but for the most part, it should be beautiful and relatively calm. We should also mention that the water temperature should be around 78 to 80 degrees, so don’t bother packing a wetsuit.
There’s fairly long transition to T-1. We suggest that you sprint this lights out at full speed! I mean, just blast through this part as hard as you can! Full anaerobic!! Ok…just kidding. Just threw that in there to try and get you to smile. We try not to give racing & pacing advice. That’s between you and your coach. Ok…on to the bike.
The bikearooski. The 56 mile bike goes out and back toward the northern part of the Island and it does have a few hills. Depending on your experience level, they could be classified as rolling or challenging. We think it is an interesting course. It’s got several turns to keep you engaged and several flat sections where you can get aero and “do your thing.” It is known to be windy, so keep that in mind as you select your wheels. Also, the course does have a few tight spots that can get crowded. Make sure you don’t zone out too much or you may end up meeting a fellow participant by accident.
The big runbowski. Now…let’s talk about the run. In our opinion, the Ironman 70.3 San Juan is pretty much “all about the run.” The course is flat out hard. It’s two out and backs that go between the fort and the host hotel. The hill close to the fort is flat out steep and by this time of day, the temperature should be rising. We’ll leave pacing to you and your coach but we can’t help but suggest that you leave something in the tank for the second loop. The good news is that you do get to run along the shore.
Postracetastic time. We hope you leave a few days after the race to explore San Juan and the rest of the island. San Juan itself has a rich history and lots to see. There are plenty of nice places to eat in town. If you want to go a little higher end, consider Marmalade on Fortaleza Street. They’ve got a tasting menu that includes some fantastic seafood. There are also quite a few less expensive places to get in a post-race meal and even a margarita.
If nature is your thing, we’d encourage you to check out the El Yunque Rainforest. It’s about an hour from town but we think it is absolutely worth it! Once you enter the rainforest, you’ll be treated to waterfalls and some exotic wildlife and plants. In our opinion, it is a perfect place to unwind after the race.
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