Disheartened in Texas
When Ironman Texas is too dangerous for on course officials, it is too dangerous for participants. It was a bad decision to send 2500+ cyclists on a fast congested 40 mile looped course without officials (62.5 cyclists per mile). I believe this decision was a violation of the USA Triathlon event sanctioning requirements.* The race management was negligent to not inform the athletes in advance. Had I known there would be no officials, I would have withdrawn from the race.
During the race, I started to see huge packs of cyclists in pelotons before I reached the first turn around. After the turn, I found the same thing happening behind me. As I made the next turn, I found a peloton gaining on me fast with others following it. I abandoned my race plan in a futile attempt to outrun the stalking chaos. I failed and I was soon surrounded by people drafting in their aero bars. Cyclists were passing on the right and weaving out of the cones. It was scary and dangerous. I worked hard to get to the front or outside of the group. Every time I made a break I was soon swallowed up again. It was so crowded on the course that I had to brake on the overpass descents.
I have never seen so many wrecks and ambulances carting athletes away during an Ironman. USA Triathlon requires sanctioned events to submit incident reports. The one for Ironman Texas should be released to the public.
I fear my Ironman Texas race days have ended unless Ironman and the race director develop a plan for next year to ensure a safe and fair race.
*From the USA Triathlon website:
What are the Benefits of Sanctioning for Event Participants?
-USA Triathlon Competitive Rules enforcement and USA Triathlon Officials
-Participants are ensured a safe, fair, and creditable competition environment