After a few weeks of recovery, here are a few notes on the Huntsville 70.3 Ironman.

The short version (given there’s lots of details below) is that the course was fantastic, though very hilly, and I managed to shave 15 minutes from my last 70.3.


No surprises here. There were scheduled times for registration and all we needed was the receipt from our online payment. With that, they handed over a wristband, timing chip, stickers for my bike and helmet, a hot-pink swim cap for my age group, t-shirt, and a morning gear bag for transferring clothing from the swim start to the run finish.

Next up was dropping my bike off at the transition. There were two stickers for the bike, both of which had my bib number on them and matched the number on my wristband. Staff at the transition entrance used these to make sure the bike belonged to me, before letting me in. Then I tracked down my transition spot, which was nicely equidistant from the swim, bike, and run entrances.

That was it for the Saturday events, other than eating some tasty Thai food and getting a good night’s sleep. Sunday (race day) started early, so that I could set up my transition area by 6:30. I took about 10 minutes to get everything organized and visualize how I’d move through the zone.


We were organized into age groups for the swim start. As one of the older groups, we started 20 minutes after the first wave. We waded into the lake and floated around the start line, until they announced our group and we started swimming.

The water was a nice, cool temperature and I felt good throughout. The last third of the swim was in the river between Fairy Lake and Lake Vernon. So, we got pretty crowded and had to manage a fair bit of contact.

In previous triathlons, I’ve had trouble with dizziness when getting out of the water. This time I increased my rate of kicking for the last five minutes or so to get the blood moving around again. This seemed to really help and I had no issues with being light headed this time.

The swim ended with a long 500m run along pavement into the transition zone. During this, I was able to wiggle out of the top half of my wetsuit, in preparation for the rest of the transition. Once I was at my transition spot, I pulled off the wetsuit and quickly consumed one caffeinated gel. Then helmet and bike shoes on, and grabbed the bike to run out to the bike mount line.


There was light rain during the swim which left the start of the bike course a bit wet and slippery. After a kilometre or so, that dried off and the bike course was gorgeous with lots of hills through the Canadian Shield. By the end, we’d accumulated 1,100 m of elevation and it was important to manage the effort and not burn out. I stuck with a heart rate target of 155 for most of the course with a few exceptions for the bigger hills. That left me with lots of energy for the run after about 2 hours and 50 minutes of riding.

The elevation profile for the ride: two big hills and lots of little ones

I had a 750mL bottle of electrolytes and 500mL bottle of water on the bike that I consumed throughout, along with a Cliff bar and two energy gels.

The bike course was open to traffic, so we had a few cars to contend with. But, they were very careful and I didn’t see any issues.


T2 was straightforward. I racked my bike, took off my helmet, and switched to running shoes and a hat. One more caffeinated gel and off I went.

My plan was to maintain a 5:30 minutes/km pace for the run with an emphasis on keeping it slow after the bike transition. I immediately had to slow down even more though, as the course starts off with a really steep uphill.

The elevation profile for the run: a really steep start and two steep climbs in the middle

This was followed by a steady uphill from about km 5 to 10 with a big downhill and then back up again on one very steep hill. I came close to walking on this one, but managed to keep a slow pace all the way up.

In Tremblant, I intentionally walked through each aid station on the run. This time I ran through each with one water doused onto my head and one Gatorade to drink.

I’d planned for two gels on the run: the first around km 8 and second around km 14. Somehow I managed to loose one though. As a result, I came very close to hitting the wall on the last 3 km of the run. After a real struggle through km 18, I was able to pull it back together well enough to finish in 1h58m.


I’m happy to have improved my time from the Tremblant 70.3. I was in the top third for my age group and top quarter overall. So, well within my top half goal. More importantly though, I was able to enjoy the experience (excluding km 18 of the run).

Just one lesson learned: pack an extra gel or two. They don’t take up much space and the consequences of insufficient fuel are significant.

Me at the finish line looking tired, but pleased