Ironman 70.3 Syracuse: A perfect late spring destination race for Canadians
— By Chris Willer
Sunday June 19, 2016 saw the age-group-only seventh running of the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse race in Jamesville Beach Park. Over 1,500 triathletes came out to test themselves in what is a great tune-up race for Ironman Lake Placid or Ironman Mont-Tremblant given similar bike courses with plenty of short climbs and rolling terrain.
This year, since Ironman has decreased the number of races with professional slots on the North American circuit, it left a great play day for age-groupers to enjoy an event with a more casual feel. That’s not to say there were not fantastic age-group performances. The race also served as a regional Ironman TriClub Championship race and in addition offered relay participation, something not seen at too many other 70.3 events. Syracuse also offered 75 age group spots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
The day started with a heat wave that had rolled into town on Wednesday with 28 degrees Celsius and the lead up to race day continued to warm. On race day it was 33 degrees once the day got on. This is usually the case for Ironman 70.3 Syracuse, so triathletes interested in racing there next year should be sure to embrace the heat in their training.
The swim was a multiple-wave send off into the Jamesville Reservoir. First time and seasoned triathletes will appreciate the small waves which leave four minutes between. It is a normally calm, clockwise course that is well marked and easy to navigate. Wet suit strippers assist the run from the swim finish to the transition zone, something not often seen on a 70.3 course and one of the many perks of this event.
T1/T2 is centrally located and a great place to launch onto the challenging and hilly bike course. The bike course is a tour of a wonderful region meandering around farm and cottage country. It has good road conditions and great local support. A neutral service car and motorcycles with spare wheels give the race a more professional feel and are there to help out for any emergencies. The bike course runs various towns, where local families come out to cheer and help create a warm and welcoming environment. The bike finishes with some downhill stretches, a welcome contrast to the climbing that dominates the first half.
From T2 the run launches through the park and sends athletes off down the quiet highway and then onto side roads. A few short but tough climbs await you on the way to the turn around and make for a good challenge for the quads. The looped course offers a great series of aid stations and nearer to the park grounds, great fan support.
The top male finisher was a Canadian — Montreal’s Scott Cooper blew away his nearest rival by 19 minutes to take the tape at 4:22:53 with a swim of 29:09, bike of 2:22:39, and run of 1:26:31. There were many other impressive times put in by a multitude of Canadians who participated.
Syracuse is a great race especially for Canadian athletes that live in Eastern Ontario or Western Quebec as it is a four to five-hour drive from Toronto or Montreal. It’s a manageable trip to make over just a weekend.
If you wanted to extend your trip, Syracuse has a few other events taking place around the race date each year. Plazapolooza happens around this weekend opening up another part of the city for locals and tourists to enjoy the outdoors with food and celebration.
Syracuse is home to central New York’s largest shopping mall home to many stores, a cheese cake factory, and many activities for kids and youth to enjoy. Downtown Syracuse is a bastion of architecture from the turn of the 20th century with Armory Square and Clinton Square areas being especially historically important. There is a summer farmer’s market on Tuesdays, the Lakeview Amphitheatre for seeing a concert, or the Museum of Science and Technology for families to enjoy. It’s a great town known for the SUNY University and high quality hospital center. It would be easy to enjoy a weekend in Syracuse.
Overall, the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse is professionally operated, enjoys the support of the surrounding farm townships, and is a relatively easy commute for Ontario and Quebec residents to enjoy a weekend in the USA and an early season 70.3 event as a preparation for further goals in the season like Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Mont-Tremblant.