One of the really neat things about this event is that on the start line, everyone is equal. Pros, Elites, MOP and BOP all line up at the same time on the same beach, use the same transition tent, ride the same roads and run the same trails. If you are so incline, like I was this year, you can march right up to the front of the pack at the start of the race, and swim and try to catch a draft off one of the pros. It might be only for about 10 metres, but who cares. The old ITU event was run separately from the Corner Brook triathlon. The age-groupers raced in the morning and then lined up to watch the pros in the afternoon. It was cool to watch, but at the 70.3, we were a part of it. Even at Ironman Florida, the pros got a 15 minute head start.
Another neat thing is that in the evening, everyone gets to go to the same party. Before the awards presentations started, a group of the pros walked right pass my table. I called out to Craig Alexander, and he graciously came over, shook my hand and signed my “Road to Kona” magazine. That just don’t happen in a lot of other sports. Try getting into the post Stanley Cup celebration. Recently Daniel Cleary of the Detroit Red Wings returned home with the Stanley Cup. 20,000 people showed up in the rain to catch a glimpse of him with the trophy. Getting close enough for an autograph and handshake was next to impossible even if you had the patience to line up for hours.
This race is a must do if you are planning a destination race and are looking for somewhere different. It’s also a must if you are looking to qualify for Clearwater. This year there were around 250 entrants, and there were 50 slots. That’s pretty good odds. A lot of the elite athletes either had a slot already, or just weren’t interested in going to Florida, so the roll down proved to be even more lucrative for middle of the pack athletes. My 5:47 was good enough for 7th out of 24 athletes in my age group. There were 4 slots, so after the first, second, and third place finishers declined, I was off to Florida. If this event catches on, that won’t happen many more times.