I am now in Christchurch and though it’s great to be back I am rather missing my time in Busselton. Jo and I were made to feel so welcome by my mums friends Neil and Lorraine. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so comfortable and so relaxed so quickly in someone elses home. Given my lack of preparation pre arrival this was a key ingredient in getting me ready for the race. It allowed me to train hard but more importantly fully relax when not training.
I’d heard so many good things about this race that it was going to have a hard time to live up to expectations. Everyone that I knew that had done it had rated it the best Ironman they’d done and all, despite the expense, returned at least once to repeat the race. I am now one of those people and since IMG have now lost the license I’m just hoping that the WTC keep the race at Busselton as I would love to return and do this race again.
Why is it so good ? Many of the reasons are down to the location (Western Australia in general and some to Busselton in particular) and some are down how IMG run the event. The latter could be picked up by other races.
Western Australia is a lovely part of the world. I’d just not realised how beautiful it was. The riding in the run up to the race was great fun, if at times intimidating due to the lack of traffic and civilisation on the roads. This low population allows the race to have completely closed roads for the bike. Not only closed but Jo commented when cycling to see the race that the roads were closed at junctions prior to the race course to make it almost certain to get no traffic.
Busselton is a holiday destination for many which means that there appears to be lots of accommodation. Always a good thing for a race. The town itself is lovely with the most amazing endless white beaches and beautiful clear blue water. Though the locals like to tease foreigners about nasty creatures in the sea it seemed pretty clear this was just poking fun at the average foreigners fears of Australian seas I certainly got the impression there was no real danger swimming here. The swim course at Busselton has to the be the best in the world. Nice warm water but not so warm as to not need a wetsuit. Shallow enough to see the bottom the whole way. nice and salty for flotation and a great big Jetty to swim round which makes following the course and sighting a no brainer. The Jetty was being repaired but normally this affords spectators a view of the whole swim course not generally possible in other races.
The people of Busselton made us feel so welcome. Those that I talked to (and there were quite a few) seemed very proud of their town and the race they put on. There is an opening parade and though many athletes attended this more did not. I would encourage all that do it to come to the parade and give a little back to the community that is hosting them.
The bike course is flat. You’ll get a bike PB but don’t let this make you think it’s easy. Constant effort is required and that takes a huge toll. They’ve set it up as a three lap course that comes back through town. A lovely touch as spectators get a good chance to support as you do a u-turn and 2 90 degree turns in the town centre.
The run has to be the best supported I’ve been on. There’s is not a single spot without someone watching and giving a cheer. Your name printed on your run number helps so much.
The town also has a huge park that can be used for transition. There is so much space that they’re able to provide a lovely spacious well organised transition area.
Busselton is also a good place to come for pre race preparations. There’s the ocean to swim in, a local pool with two 25m pools (one outdoors) and a 50m pool about 50km away in Bunbury. The local Tri Club has sessions and make you feel so welcome. Three weekly group rides plus ocean swims.
The organisers of the race also added some nice touches. In no particular order:
1.Coloured swim caps based on your predicted swim time to allow better self seeding.
2.Coffee shop open right next to transition race morning
3.They will look after your track pump on race morning allowing you to collect it after the race. Don’t think any other race does that
4.Awards party is a proper party with a band playing afterwards and dancing
5.Every competitor gets a free beer at the finish line party. This encourages athletes to return to support the final finishers
6.The organisers had loads of their staff in the finishers shoot at the end of the day dancing and building up a great atmosphere for those final few to come home. It also made it fun for spectators to hang around and watch.
7.Spectacular fireworks display to round off a great day.
8.Sensible time for the race briefing. Morning before the race rather than the usual post pasta party which normally results in a late start and a late night on the key night for getting a good nights sleep
9.Race photos – normally I feel I’ve done well getting 7 or 8 photos but at this race Marathon Photos took a massive 31 pictures of me ! Now that makes for good value.
I can’t wait to return and race again I only hope I get the chance. Thank you Busselton for putting on such a great event.