IM FL 2008: Race Details Commentary

Thinking back to IM FL, I thought I’d put down some notes regarding the race independent of the race report. Here they are:
1. Logistics were very well done. T1, T2 and the expo were all in one place so there wasn’t much walking around.
2. Since T1 and T2 were in the same place, this is a very good spectator race. Spectators don’t have to drive miles between transition areas to watch the race. The one loop bike makes it tough to see your competitor on the bike, but 2 loops on the run makes it easy to watch them on the run, as also for the swim which is also two loops.
3. Aid stations were well stocked. Nobody ran out of anything as far as I could tell.
4. Spectators were friendly and rowdy. This makes for keeping competitors’ spirits high as they aim for the finish line.
5. There were 2258 people who started the race. This makes for a huge pileup on the swim as they head out. Be wary of swinging arms and kicking legs, but enjoy the massive draft around the buoys!
6. There were 1000+ first timers. This makes for challenging elements. First timer swimmers tend to be very messy swimmers, with swinging arms all over the place. On the bike out, there were guys who didn’t mount until much later, which caused a backup since they were running with their bikes right in the middle of the lane. Once you get past them, then it’s not bad at all.
7. Big packs of bikers make drafting benefits almost impossible to avoid, even hanging back the required distance.
8. Lots of Ironman merchandise available; a shopper’s paradise! For some items, you don’t have to get there right at the moment the expo first opens. But still get there early to get your size. Contrast this to international races where they never order enough stuff and run out pretty quickly. For finisher’s gear, there was a line out the store to get in, so get there early to get great finisher’s gear. At least they let us order this cool shell jacket since they ran out of our sizes.
9. Eating healthy is a challenge. Panama City Beach is filled with fast food and bad eats. Rent a condo with a kitchen, go to the local Walmart and buy fresh food to eat, although one could argue that the produce at Walmart wasn’t all that great. No Whole Foods in this town!
10. The food at the awards banquet could have been better. It was a bit ordinary and didn’t taste all that great. They had pork ribs and sauteed fish. I had the fish which was OK, and ate more salad and pasta alongside.
11. I’d rate the course a 10+. Very, very low hills broke up the bike course and allowed you to take a small break from constant pedaling/watts output, but it wasn’t totally flat like IM WA which made for a pedaling challenge to keep constant watts with no breaks at all. Running was totally flat and very shaded. In some ways, I’d say the course was faster than IM WA.
12. The local airport is PFN which is 15 minutes away, but you can also fly into Fort Walton Beach which is about 1-1.5 hour drive away, but potentially gives more options to fly.

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