I have never been one to sit down and consider which race I’m entering – all decisions on the subject have been made in seconds, without looking at the course, with absolutely no consideration. This has left me racing in 32-degree heat with no wet suit allowed (not ideal when swimming isn’t your strong point), and bike courses with over 6,000ft climbing when I don’t particularly like hills!
Think about your timetable – if you don’t have much time to train then you should really think about picking a race that suits your strength. If you have to travel a long way to find some hills, it’s probably not a good idea to head to Lanzarote Ironman.
So think about the geography of the race before anything – if you live and train in a dry and cold environment, without the time and resources to acclimatize to a hot and humid area, then your body probably wont thank you for racing it in a scorching location.
Race to your strengths – if swimming isn’t your strong point; choose a race that will definitely be wetsuit-legal (if the water gets too hot it is illegal to wear a wetsuit). If you are a strong swimmer then maybe think about looking for a swim that’s in a river/ocean and will have a strong current.
If you are a heavier athlete then a hilly bike course might not be for you, alternatively it might be worth researching a race that’s typically windy – it’s likely that you will cope better here then lighter athletes. If you are light then a hilly race could be a good option so that you can really benefit from your high power-to-weight ration!
A lot of people just tend to look at the bike course when researching a race – that could be disastrous if you aren’t a great runner. Just because you eat hills for breakfast on the bike, it might not mean you like to run! If running isn’t your strong point, don’t be entering Ironman Wales to discover loops of a 3-mile long hill!
Going forward I would always look to seek out the opinion of people who have actually done the race – race descriptions from the brand tend to make them sound like a day of pleasant fun whatever the terrain and conditions, so don’t just rely on the official write up!