No Ironman NY? No Problem?

Just to be clear, there is still no definitive word on Ironman NY's status for 2013. It originally opened with a hefty $1200 price tag and a shortened 15:30 cutoff.  Due to a combination of factors including outcry over the price, and slow registration, the good folks at WTC suspended registration shortly thereafter. The pros and cons of IMNY can be debated. On the one hand, the race presents some unique logistical challenges, you swim in less than pristine water, and the money is not insignificant. On the other hand, it's still more economical for New Yorkers than any other Ironman brand race once you factor in hotel, restaurants and travel to the race. Whether IMNY survives or not, you can be sure that if it returns there will still be a big entry fee and you there will still be some major logistical obstacles. For folks who are looking for a significant endurance challenge next year, let's look at a few alternates.  Some are "Ironman" distance, others not, but racing any of them would be a major accomplishment.

  • Newton 24 Hours of Triathlon, Lake Mills, WI. There are 8 and 24-hour options, a tri, a du, and solo and relay divisions. All events are continuous loop short course road triathlons with a 0.24 mile swim, 11.2 mile bike and 2.6 mile run. Athletes compete to cover the most number of laps in 8 hours or 24 hours in the swim - bike - run or bike - run format. The winning relay team/solo in each category is the one that covers the greatest number of legs/laps in the allotted time. The event obviously requires endurance, but also strategy and planning.
  • SOS Triathlon, New Paltz, NY. The Survival of the Shawangunks. SOS is a unique event, run by our friend Don Davis. It's a 30-mile uphill ride, followed by run, swim, run, swim, run, swim, run. Each segment is point-to-point. The first segment (bike) requires a crew member to collect the participant’s bike at the bike-to-run transition and supply any gear required for the run/swim segments. The remaining seven segments are unsupported and require participants to carry-in/carry-out any needed supplies. By the time you're done, you'll have run 19.4 miles of trails and swum 2.1 miles.
  • American Zofingen Duathlon, New Paltz, NY. This one is the evil brainchild of our friend John McGovern of Catskill Mountain Multisport. There are F1 and short course options, as well as a 56 and 112 mile time trial, but if you're looking for something painful and enduring, it's the long course that will catch your attention. A 5-mile trail run, hilly 84 mile ride, and a 15-mile run should be enough to get you to forget about M-Dot.
  • Esprit Triathlon, Montreal, Canada. If you insist on "iron" distances but don't want to pay the hefty M-Dot price tag, get in the car and drive to Montreal next fall.  You get all that distance for $355 American. Even if you factor in gas, tolls, hotel, restaurant - you're still saving money. Plus you can drive right up to the venue the morning of the race, and walk a block from transition to your car when you're done. But I'm sure they can arrange for a ferry and paying someone to retrieve your bike if you insist. Yes, the course is brutally repetitive, but at least it's spectator friendly.
  • Minnesota Border to Border Triathlon, Minnesota. This four day team event covers 220 on bike (day 1), 210 on bike (day 2), a 50 mile run (day 3),  and 50 miles in a canoe plus 10 portages (day 4)
  • HITS. If you don't have your heart set on the M-Dot brand, HITS is a viable option for a series of well organized races with distances from sprint to iron at every venue.

Of course if you want to hear Mike Reilly say your name at the end of the race, Ironman is the brand for you. They put on a great race and are the standard that other races aim to meet. But if you're open to other challenges - with different distances and different organizers, there are plenty of options.

What are your favorite endurance challenges?