This past weekend, team members Michael McQueen, Steve Ruppel, and Seth Alwin traveled to Lawrence, Kansas for the Ironman 70.3 event. Race day morning saw strong storms pass through the area, leaving the transition areas wet, the roads damp, and the swim venue choppy. With lingering winds and rolling waves, the three entered the water in consecutive wave starts starting at 7:13am. Due to the tough water conditions, the swim was pretty brutal – all three felt they drank half the lake during the swim. Seth lead the way out of the water with a strong 30:51 swim over the 1.2 mile distance, followed by Michael with a 36:26 and Steve with 47:20. After what seemed like a mile long run through the sport’s longest T1, the three set out on the bikes for the 56 mile ride.
There was a lot of pre-race chatter about how hilly the bike course was, which turned out to be 100% true. Neverending hills, zero shade, and an ever increasing wind made for tougher conditions than hoped. With his strong bike, Michael put down a 2:28:31. Seth rode to a 2:51:32 split, and Steve finished with an impressive 3:04:26 on very limited bike training. T2 welcomed the racers to the run with wet feet thanks to wet grass, and the temps at this point had risen into the low 80’s.
All three faced a tough run with several out and backs over the two-loop course. Like the bike, there was next to no shade throughout, and with no training time in the heat this season, Steve, Seth, and Michael struggled with the high temperature. By race end, temps had topped 90°. Despite this, Michael ran a solid 1:36:25 on his way to a 4:45:49 finish, 99th overall out of 1317 finishers. Steve maintained a steady effort throughout his 2:31:30 run, helping him to an overall 6:32:22 and 936 ranking. Stomach cramps and nausea plagued Seth through the whole run which left him walking by mile 11. Still, he made his way to the finish with a 2:17:01 run split and an overall 5:44:47 / 531 rank. Needless to say, the heat took it’s toll on all our members during the run. All three had raced just one week earlier in Green Bay, facing temps in the 40’s.
Overall, the race proved to be one of the toughest 70.3 distances any of them had raced. In addition to the winds, tough swim, hilly bike, and high temps, the race layout resulted in excess walking and exertion the day before the race, with two transitions nearly a mile apart and a check-in line that left athletes standing in the hot sun for nearly an hour. While there are no regrets in doing the race, it’s unfortunately a race we won’t be doing again nor one we could recommend to our members. There are other races much closer with far better organization than Kansas.
Great job to Steve, Seth, and Michael for their finishes on a tough day!