Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake

Course_ProfileTravel and Accommodations
Traveling to Lubbock, Texas, is always interesting. As I live outside Dallas, I usually drive, but Lubbock has a small, regional airport that is served by Southwest, United and American. The airport is very close to hotels and the race venue.

Two local hotels that I’ve used and recommend include the Holiday Inn Lubbock Park Plaza and the Hotel Towers Lubbock Civic Center.

There are plenty of food options throughout town and near enough to the race site.

Pre-Race Workouts
Buffalo Springs Lake is located just outside of the city of Lubbock. Pre-race, you can get into the park to do some workouts, although there is a charge to enter. I like to get there early in the day as late June in Texas is very hot. My recommendation is to do a short swim, bike and run and head back to the air conditioning for the rest of the day.

This race is hot and usually windy. The race starts out in low 80s and can warm up to above 100 on the run. Hydration and pacing are key to a successful race. Those that start the bike hard usually pay for it in the back half of the run.

Race Morning
Get to the race site early as there tends to almost always be a delay in parking and the traffic backs up. The last thing you want is to be rushed in transition, so get there early and chill out in your car for a bit before heading to transition.

The 1.2-mile swim is in a lake with a rectangular course run counter clockwise. Race entry is at a beach area and the exit is on a cement boat dock area within 20 yards of the transition area.

I personally think this race should never be wetsuit legal, but it is. If you are someone who overheats easily you might think about going with a speed suit, or at the very least a sleeveless wetsuit. A wetsuit is always faster, but you have to consider whether the time savings are worth potentially overheating.

The run from the swim to transition is not long and well marked. They usually have wetsuit strippers on hand. The first climb (on the bike) starts within 20 yards out of the mount line. If you are not confident in getting into your shoes while they are on your bike, then you might consider taking the extra time to put your shoes on in T1.

There are seven challenging hills ranging from 2-12% grade. The first one is as soon as you exit transition; climbing out of the canyon where the swim takes place. Once you exit the park there are some flat and fast sections along the Farm-to-market roads. As you get to Ransom Canyon you will encounter a series of pretty steep climbs. The good news is they are only about 800 meters long. From there, you descend down a canyon, proceed straight and then climb up and out. The turnaround is about 3 miles once you are out of the canyon. On your way back, instead of going straight you hang a right and climb up and out of the canyon again. The second turnaround isn’t far from the top of the climb. Be careful descending — even if the roads are not wet, they can still be slick from melted pavement (yes, it is that hot). After this, you are on your way home. The wind can be a factor on race day. Over the seven times I’ve raced the event, I’ve encountered the wind from all different directions. Make sure to be cautious as you head back to transition as it finishes with a steep descent.

Aids stations are every 10 miles on the bike.

The course begins with three miles of undulating terrain in the base of the canyon until you hit the first climb. The run has three challenging hills, ranging from 6.4% to 7.6% grade (these are not the same hills as found on the bike course). The hills are approximately 300 to 880 yards in length. The first climb is roughly 8% and 400 yards out of the canyon. The course then flattens out as you exit the park. From there, the course turns left and descends. After that descent is the second climb, which is longer, but not as steep. Once you reach the top you hit “the energy lab 2” which is a flat out and back and probably the hottest part of the course. As you come back the course hangs a left and descends around mile 9. After one final climb, the course turns right and you descend back into the canyon. At the bottom of a steep hill, you will find yourself with the final 5K along the base of the canyon. If you can manage to keep something in the tank for this final 5K, you will find yourself moving up in the field.

The run course features well-stocked aid stations every mile.

Lubbock might be a bit removed, but it is still in Texas. As such, you should expect to find great Mexican food and BBQ joints throughout the city.

Coach Ron has raced Buffalo Springs Lake seven times over the years.

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