IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City
Atlantic City, NJ
2000 Participants in 2019
The race begins at sunrise with a 1.2-mile sheltered swim in the beautiful back bays of Atlantic City. The 2.5x loop bike course will take athletes INTO Atlantic City via the Atlantic City Expressway with dedicated lanes, which athletes will ride toll-free! Finally, the 13.1-mile run course features striking views of the Atlantic Ocean on the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, a one-of-a-kind race experience for both athletes and spectators.
Split Rock Resort
100 Moseywood Rd, Lake Harmony, PA 18624, USA
- All activities took place on Bader Field which was easy to find and had plenty of parking. You could do multiple loops of the Bader Field roads on your bike and run race-prep workouts. The roads are in bad shape, so just be careful.
- Registration was a breeze for us because we got there early on Sat, but by Sat afternoon there were extremely long lines.
- There is a Delmo Sports mobile app so you can receive all the race notifications, and you can do live tracking in the IRONMAN app. I used both.
- There is an active Facebook group dedicated to this race, which I found very helpful.
- Race tattoos included, so no need to buy Tri Tats or get Sharpie-d.
- Swag included a gender-specific cotton t-shirt, TYR drawstring sackpack, luggage tag, pint glass (given at bike check-in), and cap (given at the finish).
- Bike check-in mandatory the day before.
- Silicone swim cap a nice plus.
Accommodations (Camp AC)
Camp AC was right next to transition. It is literally a big grass field. There are signs indicating the different camp sites. There were porta potties and a shower, but the shower had a string that you had to constantly pull to get the water to come out, so showering was extremely difficult. There was no running water or picnic tables like on normal camp sites. However, Camp AC is ideal for RVs, of which there were many. It was difficult to hear any of the announcements on race day morning if you were getting ready in Camp AC which we were. The curfew is 10pm both nights, so you’d need to be back in Bader Field by that time. I thought the curfew was extremely early, especially for Fri night when there isn’t any race going on the next morning.
I trained for this race using Team Oxygen Addict (TOA) training plans for Winter, Spring, and then 70.3. I have been training since Jan 1, 2019. I will do a separate review for this training plan. I was very consistent in my training and felt well prepared. Unfortunately, I suffered a bike crash exactly 2 weeks from the race start, so I had to sacrifice most of my taper to concentrate on healing.
I did this race with Shaun and we opted for camping on-site at Bader Field (Camp AC). The camping experience left much to be desired, however it was worth it because we were literally minutes from transition and the village. We arrived Thurs night and departed Sun night. We took my Crosstrek with the Yakima rooftop cargo box, and plenty of room for both our bikes and camping gear. It was extremely windy both days, so we had to use the guylines to tie the tent down. The campground was a ghost town on Fri night, but definitely got filled up Sat night.
We ate out both Fri and Sat nights, and got to see some of Atlantic City that way, although had to rush back to Bader Field in time for the curfew.
- Weather – Storm in the morning so the swim was delayed 30 minutes. Overcast skies, so sun glare not an issue.
- Official water temperature – 73.9 degrees
- Start – Rolling start with 7 people in each group released every 10 seconds. You start on land and run down a ramp into the water.
- Seeding – You seeded yourself based on predicted finishing time. There were about 4 categories designated by people holding up signs, so swimmers of many abilities got lumped together. I feel there should have been more time categories versus these 4 sweeping ones. I opted for the 46-55 minute category, but there were hundreds in it. I still got pushed around by the faster swimmers and slowed up by the slower swimmers, so this “self-seeding” system was not very successful.
- Medical – There is a glasses table for you to leave various medical items. The volunteer puts it in a bag with your bib number on it and it gets transferred to the swim finish area.
- Warm-Up – There is no swim warm-up.
- Tips – There was a lot of waiting around until it was your turn to start. You stand around on cement, so throwaway flip flop shoes are recommended.
- Hard to hear announcements in the swim area.
- Salt water swim in the bay. I immediately felt the additional buoyancy when I got in which was great!
- Course was a long skinny loop.
- Very little chop. Slight current coming back in.
- Buoys were on your right. There were many buoys so it would be impossible to get lost. There were 2 turning buoys at the halfway point. There was a traffic jam at these turning buoys and I even got shoved into one.
- Extremely crowded! I never got kicked, punched, and pushed so much in an open water swim before. This definitely impacted my times.
- Murky water so I did not see any jellyfish, but others reported various stings, nettles, and other irritants in the water. I did feel what I thought was seaweed brushing past me, but perhaps it was something else.
- There were volunteers helping you out of the water and wetsuit strippers.
- Short run into transition.
- There were several shower heads that were spraying water down onto you as you run into transition.
My swim was very relaxed, perhaps too much so. Constantly being pushed around and swam over really affected me, so my time was extremely slow. I was actually getting close to the swim cut-off (1:10) which I had previously never even considered before. I breathed to the left every other stroke and sighted frequently. I wore my thickest full-sleeve wetsuit and clear goggles. Other than that, I didn’t really panic and had a “peaceful” swim. I would have liked to do this course without all the congestion to see what my real race time could have been. I did not reach my goal time, but still really proud and happy that I finished this swim with no real issues.
- Weather – It was still drizzly on the bike, but that subsided about midway through. Overcast skies meant that sun glare was not a problem.
- You bike at least 2 miles in Bader field (1 mile in and 1 mile out). That entire time is counted as your transition. Once you get out onto an actual road, that is where your bike time starts.
- Course – Course was 2 loops. Pretty flat except for some gradual inclines and declines on the highway ramps.
- Road conditions – With the exception of the rain and debris, I thought the road conditions were decent. Not perfect, but decent. There were cracks in the road and some pot holes that you had to be careful of, but as long as you were paying attention, I thought it was fine. There were rumble strips at times, and you passed under a toll booth a few times.
- Car traffic – Sometimes you had the shoulder plus an entire lane to use, other times it was just the shoulder. The Expressway was not shut down, they allowed cars to use 1 lane each for incoming and outgoing traffic.
- Markings – Pretty well marked, including the split for the loop. I used a GPS file loaded into my Garmin and it was flawless.
- Litter – Tons of water bottles and bike parts strewn throughout the course. You really had to be careful. The joke was that you could put together a whole bike from all the pieces that were left on the road.
- Scenery – Not much to see on the Expressway. It was really nice coming into downtown twice as you got a terrific view of the casinos, but that was accompanied with extreme slowdown by the athletes.
- Aid – 1 aid station that you passed twice.
- Turns – There was extreme slowdown on the turns. People were practically stopping. This really killed my average by 3/10ths of a mile each time. You can imagine how frustrated I was about that.
- Congestion – Extremely crowded on the bike course! I was constantly passing people. It became challenging when the bike course was only a shoulder and you had to pass the cyclist on their left while navigating the rumble strip on your left, and being aware of others trying to pass you at the same time.
- Safety – Roads extremely wet from the storm, so had to use extra caution. There were tons of athletes with flats. I think the final count was 76 flats, and SAG even ran out of tubes. I saw several athletes forlornly walking their bike back to T2.
After entering T1, I immediately used the porta potties and then took a somewhat relaxed pace getting ready for the bike. My bike was racked really close to the Bike Out so it was nice not having to run far in cleats. I learned my lesson from my last race in Cleveland and had my timing chip on the outside of my ankle where it would not rub into the crank arm. Being one of the last athletes out of the water (the announcer said there were only 95 athletes left in the water by the time I exited), I spent the entire bike course passing people and constantly calling out on your left. This became arduous and outright dangerous at times, especially when others were passing me close on the left as I was passing someone.
I rode my Liv Avow bike and team kit. I was feeling like a super star for the entire first half. I was well above my goal pace of 20mph. I tried to stay steady at around 116 watts, and stayed in aero position. These flat courses and cooler temperature suit me. I was feeling really good. After the turnaround in downtown AC dropped by average by 3/10ths of a mile, I became a little disheartened. Then, my lower back started acting up. Second half was a lot slower than the first. I stretched my back out a lot, which killed my aerodynamics, but didn’t care at this point, I just wanted to be done on the bike. By the time I finished, I had dropped below my goal pace, but still think I did reasonably well on the bike.
- Weather – It got extremely hot and sunny on this run! The temperature must have jumped 30 degrees from the cool morning start of the race. There is no shade anywhere on this course except for a brief run around a warehouse building. Pack your hat and sunglasses!
- Course – Course was up and down the entire boardwalk including some short stints on the road, sand, and behind a warehouse building. It was flat as can be!
- Road conditions – Smooth surfaces, but just need to be careful of the planks on the boardwalk.
- Markings – Well marked course except for the part where you are on sand and there is no sign telling you whether to go left or right. Luckily a spectator pointed me in the right direction.
- Scenery – Beautiful ocean views for the first half. Second half you enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk casinos and shops, and ran right by the huge Ferris wheel that is the logo of this race.
- Aid – Aid stations about every mile.
- Turns – A few turns, but these were well managed and traffic free.
- Congestion – Crowds not an issue, as everyone was spread so thin on the run. I used the Galloway Run Walk Run method and did not have any issues with taking my walk breaks and impeding traffic.
I took my time in T2 getting ready for the run. I finished my fluids from the bike. Since it was still overcast, I opted not to wear my sunglasses which was a big mistake! The course got extremely hot and sunny for the second half and there was no shade to be found anywhere. Additionally, my socks and shoes were all wet from being rained on. As a result, I suffered severe blisters and foot discomfort for the entire second half of the run. Despite the issues with the heat and blisters, I still did fantastic on the run! I blew my goal pace out of the water.
The course was truly flat and most of it was on the boardwalk with a few short sections on road and even sand. Delmo is known for featuring sand on his runs. Unlike some of his other races like Escape the Cape where you literally run over sand dunes, the sand in this race was very short and covered in carpet, so it was not a big deal. The scenery was breathtaking. Ocean views everywhere including a run out onto a pier so you were literally running directly into (over) the ocean. I saw the chop in the ocean and felt extra grateful that I didn’t have to deal with that on the swim.
Just like the bike, I was feeling like a superstar for the first half of the run, with my splits faster than my race plan. Then the sun and heat came out on the second half of the run, and everyone was baking. The misery set in. I still stuck to my plan, but it wasn’t as easy as before.
I did the Galloway Run/Walk/Run method using a ratio of 60/30 which worked great for me! Tons of people were walking everywhere, but I stuck to the plan and shockingly was able to pass quite a few of them on the final quarter of the run. I stopped at almost every aid station and ate and drank pretty much everything they had there.
The spectators were great and I thanked each one who clapped or cheered for me. Some of volunteers even got into costume. The zombie apocalypse aid station was hilarious. It has never bothered me that my family has never been to a single race of mine because the community support is so incredible! I had a big smile as I ran down the red carpet and across the finish line.
Race Performance Review
This is a review of my race performance. The purpose is to find and celebrate the positives, and identify areas to improve for next time. Contains HONEST and ACCURATE reflections on the race. First, it examines expectations prior to the race and reviews training leading up to the event. Then, it looks at the data and other information from the race and compares what ACTUALLY happened with what was PLANNED to happen, based on race plan. Finally, it collects learning points in the summary, to refer to for next time.
Summary Well organized, fun race! Flat and fast, a good course to set a PR. The race director and all the volunteers are awesome.