Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico

Travel and Accommodations
San Juan has a major international airport and has direct flights from numerous locations in the U.S. You can find plenty of flights from the major airlines such as United and American, but be sure to check other airlines like Southwest to save on potential bike fees. TriBike Transport also services this race and can be a great alternative to flying with your bike.

The race takes place in the middle of the city and both host hotels are conveniently located at either the race start or T1. Additionally, there are numerous hotels in the area if you want to do some price comparisons. The race venue is only a 15 minute drive from the airport and cabs are plentiful, making the need for a rental car unnecessary.

Pre-Race Workouts
Prior to the race, you can access the swim course in the lagoon and because it is protected, it is nearly always calm throughout the day.

Cycling from the host hotels is fairly difficult without doing short out and backs or riding along the bike paths along the shore. When I raced there, I did a short ride near the hotel to make sure everything on my bike was in working order, but avoided doing anything particularly long.

Running can be done easily and I would recommend running along the ocean towards Old Town.

Puerto Rico has a tropical climate so expect warmer temperatures, humidity and wind. You should also anticipate a probability for rain, with a potential for localized heavy downpours. 2013 saw a mixture of dry and wet portions of the bike and run course.

Race Morning
Race morning is not particularly hectic as nearly everyone is staying near the race course and will walk between T1 and the swim start. I believe you can park in one of the hotel parking garages if you are driving in, but I would suggest taking a cab if you are beyond walking distance.

In my opinion, this is one of the best swim venues on the circuit. The water is typically right at, or under, 80 degrees making it a very comfortable non-wetsuit swim. The first 1600 meters or so of the course take place in a protected lagoon making for flat, calm conditions. The final 300 meters takes you under a bridge and across an area that will likely see some slight swells rolling in. Save a little extra energy in the lagoon so you can power through this final section. As you exit the swim, you will be encountered with a long run to T1, so I suggest walking this section the day before you know what the expect.

The bike course is an out-and-back course with one section that you will repeat twice. As you make your way in and out of town you will encounter some rolling hills as you are riding up and down freeway overpasses. As you leave town, you will be on flat roads that are subject to some wind, but with a number of direction changes you are never sitting too long into a stiff headwind. It can get congested in some of the turnarounds and I saw several crashes in these sections in the wet conditions in 2013, so keep your wits about you in those locations.

The run is the signature part of the course. It includes two out-and-back sections that take you along the coast, then up and down some big hills as you run around the Castillo de San Cristóbal Fort. This a challenging run course that requires some good fitness to handle. If you nail the run in this race, you will do very well overall. The first two miles of each out-and-back are rolling, then you will encounter a steep hill as you run up towards the fort. You run along the top of the hill before dropping down a steep, cobbled decline that takes you to a sidewalk along the shore. Here you run along the coast (“behind” the fort) to the turnaround and then you retrace your steps back up, along and over the big hills. Patience pays major dividends as you make your way through the second loop.

Depending on time available, I suggest checking out parts of Old Town, or better yet, other parts of the island. If you have taken the time of traveling to the Caribbean, be sure to take full advantage of it!

Categories: Half Iron

About Author

Justin Daerr

Justin Daerr is a professional triathlete. You can follow him on Twitter @justindaerr.