This quintessentially Australian course which includes a surf swim and quite a bumpy ride into the hills are only two features of what awaits athletes at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship at Mooloolaba, Queensland in September. The locality of this championship course is unique in that it is the first to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere. The legendary Sunshine Coast in Queensland sets a perfect stage as being one of the global destinations in triathlon with this new, more challenging course.
Organizers have worked hard to develop a course of championship quality. It integrates a challenging ocean swim, a breath-taking ride through the hills of Mooloolaba and a scenic run along its celebrated coastline.
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Although this is the first time Mooloolaba has hosted the world championships, it is by no means a rookie. In fact, Mooloolaba has held both the IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival, and the ITU World Cup races for several years.
As local Queensland-based professionals Caroline Steffen and Josh Amberger can attest, the course for this particular championship will reveal new challenges. According to Amberger, a crucial point in this race will be the ocean swim. Despite being a deep water start, athletes from abroad especially will need to be mindful of the powerful rolling surf conditions commonly known to the Sunshine Coast. Other challenges include the run on the soft sand followed by a hill straight out of T1 that will further soften the legs.
As for the bike, the previously multi-lapped course has been swapped by organizers for a larger, single-lap route on which athletes can take in the scenic views of rolling hills to the west towards Palmwoods. Amber is confident that this will prove to be a fair race, and, while not as tough as last year, is a true championship course.
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Steffen thinks that the mountainous nature of the bike will definitely affect the outcome of the race. As an organizer, she is well aware of the steep climbs of up to 18 percent grade as well as the overall ‘lumpiness’ and degree of technicality of this leg.
Here are a few last tips for each leg of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship course from race director Chris Price:
Swim overview – A deep water start parallel to Mooloolaba Beach with a one-lap rectangular course in a counterclockwise direction.
- Tip: Athletes should get to know the water conditions which may include rolling swells even though winds are usually light at this time of the year.
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Bike overview – The 90-km (56 mile) bike starts with an out-and-back section on the Sunshine Motorway before a rolling lap course through the Australian hills.
- Tip: Athletes should be prepared for a variable topography ranging from flat and fast to up-and-down on heavier chip road seal.
Run overview – The 21.1 km (13 mile) run takes place over two laps from Mooloolaba Beach over Alex Hill and along the foreshore to the café precinct in neighboring Maroochydore.
- Tip: Athletes should be prepared for warm conditions and the endurance to maintain a fast tempo over four hill climbs.