For most of us, traveling 70.3 miles is a tough work commute on the park and ride. For a dedicated group of triathletes, it’s a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. If you haven’t witnessed a half Ironman triathlon, here’s your chance. On May 4th, 400 athletes will compete in the longest distance Ironman triathlon in the Charlotte area.
The Carolina Half Ironman starts at Davidson College’s lake campus. According to Benji Jones, founder of the Jones Racing Company, and organizer of the event, last year’s inaugural Carolina Half Ironman was the first event of its type to be held at this location, or in Charlotte at large for that matter.
Keeping the field of the half Ironman distance to 400 competitors helps create a better event for the athletes. Since the 70.3-mile distance can be daunting for many beginning triathletes, this year’s event will also include an international distance. This race format is comprised of a swim of 1500 meters, a 24-mile bike ride, and a 10K run. Both events share a start and finish line, with the international distance starting 20 minutes later.
Directing any race comes with its own set of hurdles. The distances involved in the Carolina Half and the point to point layout (the start line is seven miles away from the finish) created some unique challenges. For example, the transition from swim to bike or “T1” happens at the lake campus. The bike to run transition or “T2” and the finish line are located at Baily Park in Cornelius.
“Organizing both a finish line and a separate starting line as well as coordinating with six different police jurisdictions was the most challenging part of organizing this event,” says Jones.
If you’re headed up to experience the spectacle that is the Carolina Half Triathlon, here are a couple tips. First, you’ll want a good spot from which to watch. Jones suggests the transition locations and the finish line for the best action. Second, since 7:00 am is early for some, you’ll need coffee. Summit Coffee on Main St Davidson is not only a race sponsor but one of the best local coffee shops in and around Charlotte. Keep a look out as they’re providing java for the participants, volunteers, and spectators.