An early season middle distance race in a warmish part of Europe for April.
Race organisers need to be better at communication to athletes on changes to the course. 2 key gripes for me were:
1) lack of nutrition on run course. At the race briefing, we were told that the aid station(s) would be fully stocked with water, coke, gels etc(things that those who are accustomed to racing the Ironman branded 70.3 are used to). To arrive at the aid station on the run and to see only red bull & water, i was a a little shocked. I usually rely on the aid station at the back end of a half mara for some coke to get me through. We were told the organisers had delivery issues post race. Surely they would have known this on the morning of the race and could’ve informed participants before we set off.
2) shortening of bike course. The course is mainly a 3 loop course where you ride an initial 7.5km to get to the looped section. The roads on the 7.5km section were extremely rough - pot holes, cracks in the concrete and cobbles. The roads were so rough, i had a mechanical on the way out to the looped section. Whilst this is unavoidable and a pre course reccie had me psychologically prepared, what really confused me was the shortening of the loops. Again, post race we are told this had to be done due to unforseen circumstances - a simple message that each loop would be 20km rather than 25km should have been relayed to participants before we set off. It was very confusing and I wasn’t sure if I had even done enough laps!! Post race chats with fellow participants - I wasn’t the only one in this state of confusion!!
All in, I do not think this is one I would return to despite the potential for a quick time here.
Posted on 22.04.18
I am always happy to give credit where credit is due, but criticism is also necessary where it is deserved, primarily so that the organisers can take the feedback on board and offer a better experience to future participants.
Let's start with the good. The race venue is near the airport with easy access and there's plenty of reasonably priced accomodation around, both hotels and airbnb. I got restaurant recommendations from google reviews and was quite satisfied with the food quality in general and great coffee pretty much everywhere! The temperature this time of the year is great for racing and a nice change from the northern European cold. Registration to the race was nice and easy and I liked the fact that it was a late start on a Sunday so you get to sleep in and check in the bike on the day.
Unfortunately the list with what went wrong is quite a bit longer.. First of all, whenever I purchase anything whether it's a service or a product I generally want to trust that the seller will provide what they say. There is little benefit in advertising a race as a fast course suitable for PBs when the bike is 13km short, and why even try and pass it as a half-iron distance triathlon when it's clearly not. Even if there were last minute issues with the course someone could have at least told us during the briefing or emailed us before the race start. As such, by the end of the 3rd lap everyone was kinda looking at eachother wondering whether they've counted the laps wrong, I know a few people who did an extra lap thinking surely this can't be right.. Road surface pretty horrible for the 15km stretch out to where the loops start, but even there it was iffy at parts. Lots of drafting, especially the pros, great role models.. A police car that was driving ahead of us just decided to stop and do a U-turn, about 10 of us turned white and started shouting to people behind to slow down.. seriously guys?
The run was a disaster as well in regards to aid stations. Only a day before at the briefing we were told that twice per lap we'd have access to water, coke, bananas, redbull, sweets, gels etc etc.. and personally I rely on coke and water for my fuelling during the run. Why couldn't they just tell us that they had problems and we may have to be a bit more self sufficient rather than be forced to realize 7kms into the run - after having smashed myself for 3 hours already - that I'd have to get through another 14kms with nothing else but water and the occasional sip of redbull if I was lucky enough? I would have been more than happy to grab a gel the day before to have with me and would have actually appreciated the heads up by the organisers. There's always something that can go wrong, but at the end of the day transparency and the way you handle it is how you get judged, and the way the organisers handled this situation was terrible and reflected very poorly on the Challenge brand. By the 3rd lap the water cups where everywhere on the floor as there was no designated bins to dispose them, and the run course also ended up being a km short. Where were the km markers on both the run and bike course as advertised?
All in all this race would have to be radically different for me to consider coming back. In all fairness all participants should be getting a partial refund and a heavy discount for a future edition of this race or another Challenge race for the simple reason that we did not get what we expected or told. The race is near Rome but not quite, so ads with the Colloseum are quite misleading. Just not the standard one would expect from a Challenge branded race or any other event where you invest so much money and months of training to get to.
Posted on 16.04.18
I've got a blog coming that will detail my experience. Unfortunately this is a 1 star for me. This race was 30kms from Rome!! It was in the Port, so really just call it that.
The whole thing was just laughable. The Italians have no idea what this race is, what it's about and how it can help their economy.
The actually Challenge Roma team from Italy just had no idea.
I feel this race hurt the actual brand. My recommendation, is pull it from this location. Any team that holds a race in their local region must actually learn how it is done from the parent brand.
I will post my blog on here once I have finished writing it.
Posted on 16.04.18
I have done Challenge races before and my experience has been brilliant - well organised, lovely courses and a more genuine family feel than the corporate Ironman races.
this however, just felt like a bit of a mess. To start with we registered on one of he promotions to get a team discount, this took ages to come through and it also wasn’t clear that that promotion than made you exempt from the hotel and entry promotion which was actually a better offer.
on arrival, the place where the race is is not the most scenic, like a run down Blackpool almost. I had visions of stunning Italian coast but the coastal road has no views and the road surfaces were pretty bad (coming from a Londoner!!).
Information on where to go was not always clear, the course kept changing in the week up to the race, and at race briefing they still hadn’t decided how the wave start would work.
On race day, transition was 90mins late opening, they only had t1 set up so had to just hand our t2 bags in and they were laid on the floor.
The race actually started on time which was a pleasant surprise. The swim was horrible, cold, choppy and coming out of the port did not feel like the cleanest water. There were only 4 buoys so because of the chop really hard to see them and we all went off course!
Coming into t1 all ok, and heading out on the bike onto the delightful roads. It was pretty windy and they had put up tape to segregate traffic from competitors, however it was all quite loose so blowing across the road that competitors were on, and I know some people got a bit tangled in it.
One of the Marshall motorbikes decided to stop just in front of me on one of the corners with no warning, fortunately I saw him and wasn’t on my aerobars at the time.
onto the 3 laps - it became apparent the bike course was going to be short - it was by 12k!!! Inexcusable when there are2 dead turn points. On the second lap the course was quite busy and there was so much drafting (from the pros too) that the Marshall motorbikes were doing nothing about.
Only one aid station, serving only water - fine for me but most people expect a bit more from races nowZ
thankfully I wasn’t running, as the run looked even worse - one aid station that wasn’t set up for the first time the pros went through, and was only handing out water but faces onto 3 different parts of the course, so for a lot of people they missed getting water. Didn’t have any of the coke, red bull, bananas or gels promised.
This was disappointing from a brand who have done a lot of great things for triathlon and who the other races I have done have been excellent.
Posted on 16.04.18
Generally pretty disorganised, no one at the race seemed to know what was going on or where anything was. Briefing inaccurate with aid stations not having what was announced (no coke, no gels etc).
Bike was short by 12/13km, run short by a 1km. Not the nicest area and water quality was pretty poor (near sewage pipes etc).
Safe to say I won't be coming back as I've generally had good experiences of challenge races.
Posted on 16.04.18