When I was originally deciding what 70.3 to sign up for, I weighed a lot of factors. I was between Ironman Miami 70.3 and Rev3 Florida. Mainly because of my desire for my husband to be there for my race, I decided on Rev3 for my first half iron distance race. I had heard good things about it, so I was excited to give it a go. Because it isn’t Ironman branded, I was nervous that some of the “specialness” wouldn’t be there, but that turned out to not be true at all.
I wanted to write a review of the race and my experience (since I already wrote my race recap), because it was certainly one worth sharing. Though I’ve never done a triathlon with the Ironman brand, I’ve raced with other big racing companies like the Competitor Group and RunDisney. My experience with Rev3 far exceeds those experienced. And I want to say too that Rev3 definitely didn’t sponsor me or ask me to write a review or anything. I just felt like sharing all of my opinions on the race itself.
A few weeks before the race I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. I don’t normally pick those up, but for some reason I did this time. It was someone from Rev3 calling to thank me for racing with them and to find out if I had any questions about the race weekend. I was already impressed, and in fact I did have a question. She told me that she didn’t know the answer but would find out and email me. She then confirmed my email and we hung up. True to her word, the week before the race I got an email with an answer to the question I had asked regarding how many people would be starting in my wave. I was heading down to Venice with a good taste in my mouth already.
When I got down to Venice everything was very easy to find. The athlete guide had been clear about where to park, where bike drop off would be, and where to go for the expo. After my shakeout swim, bike, and run, we headed over to the expo to check in and buy a few things.
Expo and apparel:
The expo was small, as I expected it would be. Tim has only been with me to bigger expos like those at Disney or Rock n Roll races, so he said he was surprised at how small the expo was. That being said, it was still a pretty good size for a triathlon from my limited experience. There were a lot of apparel options, and I think because it was the end of the season they had a lot of sales going on. I got a cute Tiffany blue shirt from last year’s race that was half price. It didn’t say 2012 on it, and the only reason I knew it was from last year was because it was the shell theme instead of the sharktooth theme that fit this year’s race theme.
At the expo there weren’t lines to check in, and I went about an hour after opening on Saturday. The people were very knowledgeable and all of the questions I had were answered. I made my way over to bike check in, and remembered that the bikes are racked in wooden boxes instead of on the normal bike racks. I didn’t know how much of a perk this would be until I realized that I had my own designated area that no one else would throw their bike onto frantically after coming out of the swim. That, and my spot had a little name plate stapled to it. It made me feel special, and it made my spot feel like “mine”.
I liked that my goody bag had a visor in it that we all got in addition to the race shirt we got at the finish line. They were selling the headsweats brand visors for $13, so it was nice to get one included in the goody bag.
One other feature that I thought was pretty neat was the race tattoos. All the other triathlons I’ve done have body marked you, but the tattoos felt kind of special. They stayed on well, and the ones on my arms came off pretty easily. The ones on my calf, however, still haven’t come off all the way. I’ve scrubbed and scrubbed and guess I’ll just have to keep doing so.
After lunch and relaxing at the hotel I drove back to one of the two athlete meeting times offered that day. There was a course run through, reminders about rules, and prizes. I won a box of powergels in chocolate, which is my favorite gel flavor, so that was exciting. The race director took questions at the end, and even though I know my questions were very “beginner”-ish, he answered them as though I was asking whether I should average 26 or 27 MPH on the bike; he didn’t make me feel silly at all. I left the meeting feeling better about the following day.
The race organizers opened transition much earlier than anyone probably needed to get there, and even for a nervous Nelly like myself I didn’t come until half an hour after it opened. It was nice to know that if I had wanted an hour and a half to lay out all my stuff, though, I would have had that option.
I appreciated the cups and water put into transition to drink on the walk to the swim start and to use to fill our water bottles with. Everything was very convenient and well thought out.
The swim course was well described, and it wasn’t difficult to maneuver. The only part that was hard was the part from the third to the fourth buoy, because the sun was right behind the buoy, making it impossible to see until you were right up on it. I think I swam a little out of the way because I couldn’t see the red buoy, but it worked out in the end. It was nice that there were wet suit strippers, though I obviously didn’t use them because I didn’t have a wet suit.
The course this year was interesting. It was the first course I’d done or seen with so many turns. We turned something like 20-25 times over the course of the distance, and I was worried that was going to bring my time down. If it did, it was probably for the best. Even though there were strong head winds, the out and backs made for the opportunity to catch a tail wind of similar strength on the way back. I appreciated the thought that went into that.
Some of the course’s roads were really hard to ride. There was a 5-10 mile stretch with some really serious bumps that were almost painful at times. I tried my best to judge what areas of the bumps were the best to ride, but with how high some of these cracks rose off the ground, there was nowhere that didn’t shake my bike. Most of the way was better than that stretch.
The volunteers on the bike course were amazing, really. I’ve run a lot of races with volunteers, but the ones out on the bike course made the day so much better. There were cheerleaders who took their job very seriously, and the people at water stops did their job really well. I can’t say I wouldn’t be a little nervous to stand there while bikers come at me trying to grab a water bottle I’m holding at 15-18 MPH, but these people were troopers. At one station a kid even ran along with me not only handing me my bottle but telling me how strong I looked and how close I was to the finish. It was a boost for sure.
The police did an outstanding job directions traffic at some serious intersections. In all honesty if they had messed up or sent cars at the wrong time it definitely could have led to some frustrations and unsafe situations, but they were very aware of when bikers were coming and how many cars could make it through an intersection before the bike got there. I thanked pretty much all of the police that I passed. I hope they understood how much I appreciated it.
The run course was a two loop out and back on a paved trail. I can’t say it was the most exciting part of my day, as there weren’t any spectators at all out there. I don’t know if they wouldn’t let people back there or if it was just a little far, so once you left the busier transition/finish line area you were pretty much alone with the other racers that you were running near. Because it’s two loop, I spent the whole fist loop thinking about how I’d have to do it all again. When I was done with the second loop I said to the volunteer as I turned off the trail onto the road back to the finish line, “thank you! And good riddance to this trail!”
The finish line area was my favorite part for several reasons:
-The actual finish line is huge and very serious looking. It made me feel that I was running in a big race because of the structure of the finish line.
-I get a free finisher’s picture! That’s a nice feature.
-It was open to the public, so Tim and my friends could come back right after I was done and I didn’t have to stumble around looking for how to get out or how to get them in.
-When I walked over to the backdrop for a photo the guy asked if I wanted anyone in my picture. I loved that I got to have a picture of just myself, one with my biggest supporter, and one with all my friends! I’m excited to see all these pictures when they’re posted.
-The bling! I can’t say I was overly thrilled with the shark’s tooth medal idea when I saw it, but the whole shark’s tooth theme turned out to be pretty cute. The finisher’s shirt is nice, and the medal I got for third place AG is pretty too. All the products and “stuff” made the race feel bigger than it was number-wise. I definitely spent a bit of time wondering if they made enough money from the few hundred people racing to pay for the setup and stuff.
I hope that the race continues to get bigger and grow. It was a lot of fun and very well managed. I will definitely consider doing it next year after Ironman Chattanooga if that’s even feasible. Rev3 is a great brand, and they put a lot of thought and personalization into their races.You can find my recap of my own person race experience here.
What’s your favorite race that you’ve run? What made it your favorite?
What’s your favorite race that you’ve run? What made it your favorite?
What do you look for in a race to consider it “well run” or “well put on”?