Much has happened these last two years with Ironman on the West Coast. From new races, Tahoe and Cabo, to big drama up North, it has been interesting to watch. To say the least, it is going to be a competitive atmosphere at many races, with athletes vying for the precious Kona slots at each race.
With Tahoe opening up early last year, I think the whole state's tri community jumped at the opportunity to have a race in driving distance. I'm definitely in the minority in not doing this first year race, but I'll be up there supporting my friends and athletes for that brutal course. Not jumping in on this may be the best decision some athlete's made as I'll describe below.
Breaking out the participant lists, I developed a projected slot allocation based on previous allocations I've seen. Much can change come race day, as the allocation is based on finishers not registrants, but it gives a good picture.
Ironman Los Cabos - March 16th
The first race for he west comes up soon, and with 50 Kona spots available, and a max of 1,500 people, its almost your best shot if you are in shape early in the season. Registration is still open, so they may not even fill the 1,500 race spots. Hopefully they will publish a participants list so I can have fun with the numbers. If they do, I will update.
Ironman Coeur d'Alene - June 23rd
The next race is the favorite among many in Coeur d'Alene. This June race can still freeze out a lot of competitors with its cold water, and air temperature from year to year. There are 50 Kona slots available, but over 2,800 registrants. Definitely a hard go for many, and with SEVEN 70-74 year old's fighting it out for 1 slot, late night on Sherman Ave should be a fun one!
Ironman Canada - August 25th
Last year's exit from Penticton was an amusing drama to unfold with the city bringing in Challenge Family racing to replace Ironman, unhappy with their current program. Lucky for the patient athlete's who didn't jump on the Lake Tahoe bandwagon, Ironman rolled out their most lucrative Kona slot allowance, offering up 100 slots to make sure people registered for the new Ironman Canada in Whistler. This untested race, looks pretty cool, and should be a great addition to the schedule. There are still Foundation slots available, so if there was ever a race you wanted to try to qualify for Kona, this is it.
Ironman Lake Tahoe - September 22nd
Finally we arrive with the race people in California have been waiting year for. A race to finally call our own up in Tahoe. Completely sold out, this event occurs in the 2014 Kona calendar, so if you qualify, you have over a year to wait and compete in October 2014. Sweet deal, unless your "significant other" rolls their eyes at the notion of 12 more months, ha!
Altitude and a mixture of dry, variable weather will test athletes on this course. The bike route is grueling, but Ironman laid out a rolling/flat marathon to soften the hit to athletes' egos. Only 50 Kona spots for this race as well, but as seen in other 1st year races, the level of competition may not be there across all age groups. Being in California, this race may buck that trend. This race has proportionately more women though, taking more Kona slots, and increasing the competition for the Men looking for the Big Island. Again, late night at the finish could be exciting with three 70-74 year old's and two 75-79 year old's dueling for Kona.
I like to play with numbers and always like to know these things for both myself and my athletes so they have a good perspective on things going into their races. I'm planning my 2014 schedule right now, so I like to see where things stand. Hopefully it helps others out too.