For as long as I can remember, my summers have been defined by my race schedule. Bike and running events with maybe a triathlon or two.
Like many other endurance athletes, I held out hope that events would start to come back and continued to maintain fitness. I was hopeful, yet skeptical, that the last race of my season, the IRONMAN Arizona 70.3, would actually take place. I was thrilled when I got the news that it was happening!
I participated in the Arizona 70.3 on Sunday, Oct. 18. I was impressed with the event production team's seamless and thoughtful approach to a safe return to racing.
The virtual pre-race briefing communicated everything I needed to know heading into event weekend. The entire flow from packet pick-up, bike valet and the transition was all one-way traffic to reduce congestion. The packet-pick up thoughtfully considered and eliminated almost every touchpoint. They even gave us our own stylus pen for signing waivers and checking in.
On race morning, the toilets lines and swim start lines were marked with X’s to ensure social distancing. We were handed disposable masks as we headed to swim start so that we didn’t have to toss our personal masks. I also loved the self-seeded time trial start. The swim was so well spaced out that the only downside was I didn’t have as many swimmers to sight off of!
As always, IRONMAN produced a well-supported event on-course. The volunteer support was just as energetic and ubiquitous as I remember them in the past. The aid stations on the bike felt unchanged with smooth and well-supported bottle exchanges. The run aid stations looked the same as past events as well. The only change was that the cups and food were self-serve. Given the intense heat of the day, I actually preferred the open front of the aid station so that I could grab as many cups of hydration as needed with a clear line of sight.
The finish line still felt magical. There were no high fives, but the energy and support still gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace for the final push to the finish line. After crossing the finish line, the medals and water were self-serve and I received another disposable mask as I walked out of the finisher chute.
Finishing the IRONMAN Arizona 70.3 reminded me how much I love the challenge and fulfillment of participating in events. My season started and ended on Oct. 18, and I couldn’t have had a better experience.
Victoria Brumfield is USA Triathlon's Chief of Staff.