Budapest 70.3 Half Ironman – 22 August 2015 – Chris Jamieson

Budapest 70.3 Aug 2015

‘Nothing truly captures the spirit of a Half Ironman like a bit of cheerleading’ – Chris Jamieson

It was not going as planned…
First the Rockstar, aka Rosario, had to abandon (rumours of some debauch hotel trashing related “sports injury” have been strongly denied by his agent…) Then the recent hot weather pumped up the water temperature to a balmy 26)C, well above wetsuit legal and blowing the chances of the fast time this flat course promised. And, finally arriving a little less prepared than usual (and somehow without insoles for my running shoes!) did not bode well…
But the positive thoughts of fellow Expatries (and some late rain) came to the rescue bringing the water temp back down enough for us Age Groupers (but not the Pros) to don neoprene for the swim and the internet kindly provided the Hungarian for insoles. Things were looking better!
So onto Race Day:
A final kit check in transition then off to watch the Pro Start. Always impressive, although for one of the Male Pros a 3min head start wasn’t enough. Caught by the Female Pro wave after just 250m!! (So clearly not all “pros” are created equal…)
A quick warm up swim, pre-start gel then time to line up in the pen for the beach start. A send off by the Hungarian Cheerleaders (obviously?!) and then the Gun! I like beach starts, they spread 300 people out in the water almost immediately so after only 50m or so there was space to swim and now time to settle in for the 1.9k double L shaped course. Calm water and large marker buoys made for easy sighting and a solid swim.
Back up the beach through the bag style transition, then out on the road. The course is flat and fast: two 45k loops along both the Buda & Pest Banks of the Danube with a quick climb up to Buda Castle (just 70m) thrown in on each lap. The course runs right through this beautiful city but I have to admit I only got to see the view on the climb, as although the roads are good there are A LOT of bumps/potholes so it’s mostly eyes down work. Other than the views the highlight of the ride had to be overtaking a Hun-garian called Atilla at about 55k, well it made me smile. A light headwind slowed things a touch back into transition but no drama and all pretty much to plan.
Through T2 and out onto the Semi-Marathon. The charity racers in their Babushka Outfits and Crocs (ouch!) had wisely decided the OD distance the day before was enough, so today was left to the more serious runners. A flat 4 lap course along the river, but with one underpass that you felt on the thighs every time on the way down it. Today the run was hard work, and the sun making an unexpected appearance didn’t help but the best sign of the day: “NO PAIN, NO CHAMPAGNE!!” definitely motivated me to tick off the laps! …then into the finishers’ chute…past the Cheerleaders (the absent Rockstar’s Groupies were back) and across the line. The season’s second goal of a sub 5hr 70.3 done…Happy with that!   (Editor’s Note: 4h56!!!)
Overall an excellent race! Well organised and a fast course for those looking for a time goal (just remember to take all your kit!). And of course an excuse to visit Budapest…what’s not to like 😉