Ironman 70.3 Turkey, November 6, 2019 (L)
Race Reporter: Claudio
If you are looking for a flat and fast bike course where to establish your new Personal Best, this could be the right race for you.
With its magnificent 30m D+ over three bridges crossed twice, you are up for one of the fastest 90km bike rides of your triathlon career. This year, the winner had an average bike pace of 43.2 km/h. I went for a less overwhelming 28.6 km/h – I got taken over by a guy honking a horn on a mountain bike, a new personal low – but you can do better.
How to get there
Once you land in Antalya Airport, you shouldn’t have any problem in finding a minibus big enough for 2 to 4 people with bikes and bags. Note that you may pay more for not speaking Turkish. In any case, you shouldn’t pay more of 300 Turkish Liras (approx. 45 EUR) for the trip to the Belek area.
Where to stay
Most people pay a premium and stay at one of the recommended hotels. This is the most convenient option, with buses regularly taking you to the race venue and back. The race venue is the Land of Legends, a modern shopping village that features a reproduction of Walt Disney’s castle, Venice canals, and a large entertainment park. Your spouse/fiancée/partner can go burn money on shopping while you burn calories on the bike. (To be fair, at this point you have already burned enough money on your bike, event registration, flight & hotel, so you owe him/her one).
If you want to escape the plastic fantastic and you are looking for a local experience, another option is to stay in Belek. My and my race buddy got an Airbnb with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, large kitchen and living room, and gorgeous swimming pool, for about one third of the price of the hotel. The main downside of this option is that Belek is approx. 7 km from the Land of Legends and from the beach access (=Kadriye Beach), which explains why every second car in Belek is a taxi. The road is quite good though, so you can easily bike and save the 60 Liras (approx. 10 EUR) of the one-way ride. There are also buses that take you from Belek to the Land of Legends and to Kadriye Beach for one fifteenth of the price of a taxi ride (4 Liras, approx 60 Euro cents).
Pick up your bib at the Land of Legends, inside the mall, in front of the Walt Disney castle. Transition 1 and Transition 2 (T1 and T2 for the connoisseurs) are in different places, so you will drop your red bag (=running shoes) at the South End of the Land of Legends, and you will leave your bike and blue bag at T1, in Kadriye Beach, approx. 1.5 km south of T2.
The swim is double U-shaped with “Australian exit”, meaning that you get out of the water after two thirds of the swim
and get back in the water for the last one third.
Run up the red carpet to T1, grab your bike and go go go! The bike course consists of 2 loops to the Expo tower and back. Expect some wind, which may help you or slow you down. Since you are biking in loops, what you get in one direction you lose in the other direction, c’est la vie.
The drop-off of the bike doesn’t follow any specific order, so once in T2 just hook your seat on one of the racks as instructed by the referees and get your running shoes on.
I personally found the run dreadful – 4 loops inside the Land of Legends. For me, the hardest bit was between T2 and the first U-turn (approx. 1.5 km), because I got there at noon with a strong sun (for November) and there is no shade in that part of the track.
Once you get through the 4 mind-numbing loops around shopping street, the fake Venice canals and the rollercoaster, you get your reward on the red carpet, which is surrounded by high buildings and people on both sides clapping hands. This part is pretty coll.
If you are looking for a fast race, and a bit of summer when the rest of Europe has already changed clothes in the wardrobe, then you should consider this race. Not for you if shopping transforms you into a werewolf, or if you choose the people you date based on their carbon footprint.