June 30th, 2010
Ironman Texas: Do or Do Not, There Is No “Tri”
Usually when I’m writing for The Loop Scoop, I’m pouring knowledge about great beers or beer events, but today I wanted to explore an amazing new development in my other passion. Aside from beer and homebrewing, my other major “hobby” (it’s more of a way of life than a hobby, really) is triathlons. In a future article, I’ll go into depth about the Houston triathlon scene and whatnot, but for this article, I wanted to mention some pretty big news with the announcement of Ironman Texas right here in Houston!
The Loop Scoop has touted itself as a blog extolling the great places and events that make Houston one of the premiere cities in America. The inception of an Ironman race here in Houston is just another major checkmark in Houston’s “better than your city” list! Why, you wonder? You don’t get the big deal about Ironman Texas? Let me break it down for you.
To start off, an Ironman is a triathlon race in which participants swim for 2.4 miles, then bike for 112 miles, and then run a marathon distance of 26.2 miles, all which must all be done within 17 hours. A walk in the park, right?
There are only 24 Ironman races in the world and, including IM Texas, only eight in the U.S.A. All of these are qualifiers for the Ironman World Championship held in Kona, Hawaii. It’s a selective group, and quite frankly, kind of a big deal. (Suck on THAT Austin and Dallas!)
The inaugural Ironman Texas, whose title sponsor is Memorial Hermann, will take place in The Woodlands at the end of May, 2011. According to the press release:
“Participants will begin with a swim in LakeWoodlands, entering the water at NorthshorePark and finishing at TownGreenPark, which will serve as the transition area. Athletes will then head out on the bike course that will take them west through The Woodlands before heading north to the scenic, rolling farmland of east Texas. The final portion of the race is a marathon course entirely within The Woodlands that concludes with a spectacular finish on Market Street.”
Even though the competition carries a hefty $636 price tag to compete (not to mention the physical and mental price tag it will inevitably rip from your body) local triathletes are buzzing about the opportunity to compete in an Ironman in our own backyard. Aside from locals, the race is sure to bring in many triathletes from around the nation as well as some endurance sport champions. There is even speculation that Texas native Lance Armstrong, who has publicly stated that he wants to do an Ironman in the near future, may make this race his entry into Ironman fame (this is complete conjecture, of course, as the Armstrong camp has made no mention of Ironman Texas… yet!).
In addition to bringing a great race to Houston, the event is projected to bring in millions of dollars in revenue to local hotels, restaurants and shopping establishments. Also, the national attention that this event will garner will be just another thing that helps to bolster the prestige and reputation of our fair city.
Of course, no great event is without criticism. Seasoned Houston triathletes are voicing their concerns that an Ironman race at the end of May in Houston is a recipe for disaster, given our heat and humidity. Statistics show that average high temperatures are in the mid to high 80’s and lows in the mid to high 60’s, but Houstonians know that those numbers are deceiving without taking humidity into consideration. The addition of high humidity and low winds can make this race not only miserable, but dangerous.
Then again, the flip side of that argument has been, quite simply, “It’s an Ironman. It’s not supposed to be easy.” I’ve personally talked to many triathletes who have gone on negative tirades about the weather conditions. I then ask them, “So, will you compete in it?” and the answer has always been, “Well, of course… it is an Ironman in Houston, after all.”
So there you have it. Even if triathlons aren’t your “thing”, you have to give big props for bringing one of the most enduring and respected races to the Houston area. Like I said before, it’s kind of a big deal!
Usually in my beer articles I’d encourage everyone to reach out and give something new a try… in this case, if you aren’t a seasoned triathlete, I wouldn’t recommend it. But, it is worth a trip to The Woodlands to see some of the best endurance athletes out there! Maybe it’ll motivate you to get off the couch and challenge yourself to one day hear those four words uttered at the finish line… “You are an IRONMAN!”