Haikou, China - Ironman China, set for March 14 2010, will offer a revised swim course and a closely monitored wave start.
Following discussions with the local government, it has been decided that both Ironman China and Ironman 70.3 China swims will use a unique 950 meter "Y" shaped course. Ian Adamson, swim course director for Ironman China, explained: "This design takes advantage of the prevailing river current, assisting strong swimmers to potential record times and giving weaker athletes the best chance to complete the course. We can still expect a record breaking swim time at Ironman China 2010."
As in 2009, the start / finish for both races is on west bank of the Nandu River adjacent to the transition area, on the north side of the Hairui Bridge. Last year the Government of Haikou constructed a beach and Ironman specific transition area adjacent to the Nandu river, and this course will enable organisers to make use of that investment again and have a single transition area whilst using a new course design and additional safety features. The first buoy will be at 50m and will be a 45 degree turn right. In 2010, 70.3 athletes will complete two laps of the new 950m swim course and Ironman athletes will complete four laps.
Because the course is a loop swim, all swimmers must be in the water before the pros finish their first lap. To accomplish this Ironman China will follow a start procedure that has been used at Ironman Louisville and at the Ironman World Ironman 70.3 Championships in Clearwater. Small groups of athletes will be channelled into the start area, under the Ironman China arch, which along with a timing mat, will be placed close to the water. The first age group athletes will start 4-6 minutes after the mass pro start.
Tinny Tung, Ironman China race director explained how the start will be monitored: "Different swim cap colours will allow an orderly line-up for the start and relative starting position for all athletes in the same age group. In reality the start is a solid line of athletes starting 1-4 at a time, each starting less than a minute apart. The time gap between the waves is not particularly important as each athlete’s time starts when he/she crosses the timing mat not when a wave is scheduled to start."
In the first 2 years of the endurance triathlon, which is set on tropical Hainan island in the South China Sea, the swim proved to be the most challenging for both race organisers and competitors alike. In 2008 the island was suffering from the after effects of a typhoon, and in 2009 torrential rain the day prior to the race caused a significant increase in the strength of the Nandu river.
Previously held in April, the Ironman China's new March race date may also help with calmer water conditions with an expectation of warm, flat, moving water with a flow up to 4 km/h. "The configuration of the course may be adjusted to accommodate conditions on race day and wetsuits are expected to be legal for amateur athletes regardless of water temperatures," says Adamson.
As with all Ironman swim courses, the maximum time allowed is 2 hours 20 minutes to complete the 3.8km; 70.3 competitors will have 1h10m to complete 1.9km.
Ironman China and Ironman 70.3 China 2010 will be held on the same day, March 14th in Haikou, Hainan Island, China. Registration is open at Ironman.com.
For further information please see: Ironman.com.