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Triathletes heading down to The Woodlands for Ironman Texas this weekend may be frustrated or happy to learn that they won’t be cycling a full 180 kilometres on the bike course.

After months of issues with the municipal politics, bad weather and road construction, organizers of Ironman Texas released the finalized bike course at the end of April. The single-loop course is full of twists and turns (80 in total) giving athletes more than twice the technical turns they’d face on either the Ironman Arizona or Ironman Wisconsin course. But what’s causing most of the uproar among athletes racing this weekend is the fact that the course is only 151 kilometres long, leaving the course end up at only 122.6 miles instead of the standard 140.6.

Several athletes have expressed their frustration online, arguing that “if the bike course isn’t 112 miles it’s not really an Ironman.”

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Canada has a handful of pros heading down to race the North American Championship at Ironman Texas. We asked their opinion on the shortened course.

“It is what it is. We all have to do the same distance and no matter how much we worry about it, that isn’t going to change. You just do the best you can to tackle the challenge in front of you.  It is all comes down to the old adage, ‘Focus on what you can control’.

Most of the disappointment comes from competitors for whom this is their first Ironman.  They are unsure whether or not they will be able to confidently say they are an Ironman, because they did not go a full 140.6 miles. It is ironic to me because a lot people were disappointed about Challenge Penticton because they questioned whether the could call themselves an Ironman if they did the distance but didn’t have the brand name attached. To me, being a triathlete and Ironman is something you do not something you did. It is more about living the lifestyle and going on the journey it takes to reach the finish line than the medal or title you receive when you get there.” — Jeff Symonds

“In all honestly, this whole situation has been a bit frustrating. That being said, I have been on the race organization side of things, and traffic plans, permits, road closures, etc. are probably one of the hardest parts of organizing a race. There is way more that goes into this part of the race than one would think. So, I do understand why it took as long as it did to restructure the course. I was not too happy (as with most people I imagine) about all of the turns on the course, but I know that Ironman and WTC did what they could with what they had to work with. As for the course being shortened… The flooding was beyond anyone’s control. I had hoped that perhaps they could make it a two loop course to fulfill the 112 miles, but in terms of safety, having that many athletes on a two loop course with that many turns could be mayhem!
The shortened bike course will definitely benefit those runners in the field, so it will definitely change the dynamics of the race. This is a bummer for us strong rider. But we all have to race the same course, and deal with all the same conditions.
I am disappointed, not at anyone, but at the situation overall. That disappointment is really only from expecting the original course, with the full distance, and now having a shortened, much more technical version. However, I will still be there on the start line, and am looking forward to put my winter training to the test.” — Jen Annett
This isn’t the first time an Ironman-sanctioned event has fallen short of the 140.6 miles. According to TRS Triathlon, last year’s Ironman Mont-Tremblant fell short by a few kilometres as well.

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