Roch trying to get an accurate temperature reading in the harbor.
Ralphs is ready to go!The 2003 Ralphs Half Ironman here in Oceanside is the official kickoff to out tri season. It is a Saturday race, so things were running down to the last minute this Friday evening with folks coming in from all over the country. Registration opened up again at noon and there was quite the expected rush of athletes coming in to pick up packets. The tough part of this event going through a military base – you have to show up in person to check-in with full ID.
One of the things on everybody’s mind was the water temp, with the race being earlier than usual. Roch got a reading of approx 61 degrees in the harbor, with surfers reporting 57 degrees out in the surf. There were some light sprinkles early in the evening, but the forecast calls for it to be dry tomorrow.
The pro meeting took place at 4.00pm, and consequently everyone showed. It was a great opportunity for folks to catch-up after a long winter (especially for East coast athletes) of training. Following the pro meeting, a group of the top contenders kindly agreed to do a forum on stage at the expo, and answer questions thrown at them by anyone.
Nicole DeBoom is hoping that her short course speed will give the edge to hold off the Ironman specialists. Heather Golnick (Ironman Wisconsin Champ) is looking forward to the tougher bike course, especially after a winter on her trainer. Heather Fuhr said she is looking forward to getting out and seeing how a solid winter of training pans out.
On the mens side, defending champ Tbjorn Sindabale, feels that the tougher bike leg this year will make for slower run splits. Chris Legh, who has just arrived from a great winter in Australia is excited to be back racing on the course that brought him his first Ironman title in 2000. Spencer Smith, who is working with a new coach, has focused more on speed this winter and less distance. Current ironman champ Tim DeBoom, feels that he is not in top shape, due to the Colorado winter, but is keen to get out and see where things are.
There is no doubt that all the top contenders are clear that it is early days for the upcoming season, but everyone is chomping at the bit to stretch things out and see where they stand. But most of all the year is getting underway with over 2000 athletes going after those elusive Kona slots on a challenging half-ironman course. The day will start early and there is not doubt that everyone will have a moment or two of patiotism as they ride through Camp Pendleton, being supported and cheered on by the Marines. I have a feeling the support will be going both ways tomorrow!