Ironman Florida 2010 vs. the Oil Spill

Is the 2010 Panama City Florida Ironman going to be canceled due to the oil spill in the gulf? That’s the big question on my mind, since I’m signed up for it, it’s my first full Ironman event, and if they cancel it what do I do about an Ironman this year, when all my training is geared towards this one event? It’s way too late to sign up for another event this year, and would they give out full refunds? Probably not. They’d probably skip the swim and have the rest of the race, but that would just stink. I’m sorry, but in my mind I’m not an Ironman if I do the bike and run but skip the swim.

But I think I have a solution to keep everyone happy. If they have to cancel the Florida Ironman, or even just cancel the swim, give all the participants in the Florida Ironman the option to switch to the Kona Ironman Championships in Hawaii. It’s just a month earlier, so most people could modify their training plans if informed of the change in the next month or two. How about it Ironman Corp?

  • Chris

    I am in the same boat and thought of the same resolution. Has anyone heard anything?

  • russell

    you’re both idiots. so you are going to spend $600 on a plane ticket out there?? i’m sure by then, they will have a backup plan.

  • Coach

    No one is an idiot. That is typical “bravery” that comes from typing on the internet, without worry of facing the other person.
    It is a good question and one that I am wondering about. IM will probably come up with a last minute duathlon. In the past, when weather has forced cancellation of the swim in other IM races, this was what they came up with. Unfortunate thing is that we will train for months before they announce anything.
    As for transferring our entries, in the past that would never have happened because both entities were separately run and managed (IM World Championships and the NA IM series, were owned by different people). Who knows now? Doubt it because that might mean allowing up to 2000 extra entries in Kona. I am for it, but am not expecting anything, not even more than a $125 refund.

  • IMSydney

    Hi, Sorry to spread the news but ironman Japan was cancelled today – due to outbreak of ‘foot-and-mouth’ disease. That is a real blow to us in Australia as no more IM races for a year…yep.
    You may be lucky to get a few $$$ refund as it’s in the fine print, registration clause.

    About transfering your race entry to Kona Ironman Championships in Hawaii forget it. You have to earn your spot there, sorry, otherwise what is the point of it been the world-champs?.

    Good luck.

  • Joshua

    I guess I’m not good at telling jokes. Yeah, I know they’re not going to comp Florida Ironman participants with free passes to Kona if the Florida swim is canceled. Anyway, hopefully the oil spill will not hit Panama City beaches per this post.

  • Jennifer

    Just found this via google. Am registered for Panama City and really looking forward to the Ocean Swim. I am going to dig a bit deeper and see if they’ve made any contingencies. I did IMLP in ’08 so if they cancel the swim I’d be bummed but still go down for the event. Note to buddy who called some fellow triathletes idiot: totally uncool.

  • Chris

    I emailed Ironman yesterday regarding the oil spill.

    My message to IM: ”
    It appears it is highly likely that oil will make landfall at Panama City Beach. What is the backup plan for the swim portion of the race?”

    Ironman’s Response:

    Thank you for your E-mail and your interest in Ford Ironman Florida.

    At this time, we are closely monitoring the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico and are in regular contact with local authorities.

    Updated information and news on the event will be available at http://www.ironman.com or http://www.ironmanflorida.com.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  • Coach

    Well it seems IM might simply wait a while. Being a bit cynical, I can imagine they will announce something at the last minute. Good idea to email them Chris. Like Jennifer, I also did IM LP in ’08. Nice rain that day. Was looking for a nice ocean swim and a very flat course.
    Oil seems to be very close to Panama City (in Pensacola right now).

  • Chris

    I am considering signing up for IM Cozumel as a backup. The oil isnt projected to hit there at this time. I don’t really want to spend the extra money though.

  • http://www.bpneveragain.com Rob

    The only positive I can think of is that a whole bunch of athletes won’t want to do a duathlon so we’ll collectively reduce our carbon footprint not travelling there (planes, cars, etc.)

    Ironically the same junk that’s in the Gulf is what we need to get there. Nonetheless, totally bummed out this is not going to happen.

  • tommy

    I also sent an email to florida ironman. Got the same response BS response as Chris. It seems they are doing absolutely nothing to change the venue. It appears the only contingency plan they have is to cancel the swim. This is my first ironman. It seems it is early enough to give back full refunds, or give us the option to register for no cost in another ironman event. There is no way possible that there is going to be any swimming in Panama City Beach in November. Everyone knows this. So what is the plan Ironman?

  • Chris

    I send them another email pressing for an answer. The person responding indicated she didn’t have any more information. I will ping them again once oil actually his PCB.

  • http://rob.com Rob

    How about do the right thing IMFL. Cancel the whole event for 2010 and roll-over the 2010 registration for 2011 when they can do the event right. An Ironman without a swim simply isn’t an Ironman even if you do bike-run-bike or run-bike-run.

    This assumes the oil is cleaned up in 17 months. Have BP sponsor the whole thing to reclaim their (what’s left of their) image.

  • cap

    We all need to file a class action lawsuit against BP is the event is cancelled.

  • russell

    I’m sorry but if you think IM is going to transfer your IMFL entry to KONA (or even consider it an option), than you really are an idiot. like they would do that. give me a break.

  • Joshua

    It was just a joke Russell, relax.

  • Joshua

    On another note, I don’t know the geography down there, but is there any inland water source that the swim could be moved to? Something without crocodiles or alligators or whatever they have down there?

  • russell

    with that many people you wouldn’t have to worry about gators.. plu,s after the gulf it’s all bay and that’s still saltwater until you get more inland where it starts to turn fresh. they could have the swim in the bay, but most likely it would be polluted with oil too.

  • Joshua

    Further updates on Panama City beaches and the oil spill:

    June 3rd – http://pcbdaily.com/panamacitybeach-no-oil-spill-here

    June 6th – “As of Sunday afternoon, no reports have been confirmed of petroleum product originating from the Deepwater Horizon oil spil…” – http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/95729134.html

    June 7th – “The latest ocean current forecasts from the NOAA HYCOM model show that the ocean currents that have carried oil eastward along the Florida Panhandle coast will weaken this week, making it unlikely that oil will penetrate farther eastwards than Panama City, Florida.” – http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1501

    Of course the hope is that now that they seem to be making some progress with the oil cap and siphoning off much of the oil, that the source will soon be under control, and that by the time November rolls around whatever oil is floating around will have dissipated or have been cleaned up. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • Coach

    I like two of the previously mentioned options the best:

    1) class action lawsuit against BP for the race (assuming it is cancelled or modified in any way other than what we paid for);
    2) having IMFL give the option to transfer our 2010 entries to 2011. Question about that is will 2011 be enough time to clean it up properly?

    Sorry for all of you who signed up for IM FL as your first. I was looking forward to doing a flat course for the first time.

  • http://aol haleboo

    let’s just hope they get a solution.. i am being very hopeful :)

  • slouisemay

    IMFL2010 would also be my first so I’ve looked into other Florida Ironman distance events around the same time – 10/23 (two weeks before) The Great Floridian in Cleremont (atlantic side of FL) and there’s another November 12th or 13th but I can’t remember the name or the location. It’s got a brackish water swim – no guarantee of gatorlewss swims but also altantic side so likely free of oil. One way or another, I’ll do my IM this year. Right now I’m just focused on training. Was in Panama City for the Gulf Coast half-IM. The Gulf waters were angry that morning but the bike was perfect, the run hot – but I expected as much. I hope to see it all again in November, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Red

    It looks like a big piece of the BP rig washed up in PCB yesterday. THIS does not bode well : ( There is plenty of time for them to find an alternative swim site. I too feel like what is the point if you can’t do the swim – no swim means it is NOT an IM. What are we going to do get 138.2 window stickers/tattoos?

    Looking at a map, there is Andrew’s Bay about a mile from the race start. Surely they would be able to move the swim to bike transition to a hotel over there (they could keep bike to run T2 in the same place – they had two transitions at the Longhorn 70.3 last year) although it may not be big enough to have one big mass start, I would much prefer a two or four wave start (yeah, they would have to let the race go until 17 hrs past the last wave, but if you don’t finish w/i 17 hrs of your wave start, you should get a DNF anyway).

    Allowing the move of our registrations until 2011 after all the training would also suck and my family (who is very supportive )would not be happy at all having to deal with my training again next year.

  • Meg Henderson

    IMFL 2010 is my first, and I will be very disappointed if they cancel the event or shorten it by taking out the swim. Is there some way participants can organize to lobby for an alternate swim start, if the original swim course is polluted?? After giving away a whole paycheck to register for this race, I would be furious if I had to sign up for another one to fulfill my IM goal! Andrew’s Bay sounds like a great alternative. – Red, I like your idea for the different transition locations. I think there is enough time until race day to do something rather than cancel.

  • Joshua

    Not too much new in this post at EverymanTri.com, but at least the issue is getting plenty of attention.

  • Reto

    Given the recent problems with the oil spill, Ironman has been vague in their response regarding their approach to any contingency plan for the race, whether or not they will cancel the swim, the race, or move the venue. This is a little unsettling given athletles’ various travels plans, rescheduling, etc. Please click on the link below or call them directly at (813) 868-5940 to request a more formalized plan of action for atheletes with enough time in advance. Thanks guys.

  • Ironmanforlife

    I agree with much of the above. By November I will have invested a lot of training and money as well as sacrificed a lot of family time. This will be my 3rd IM, but training with nothing to show for it will not sit well with them. If oil is showing up in Pensacola then Panama City Beach will not be too far behind.

    True about the swim. An IM without a swim is just not an Ironman!

    I believe Kona is definitely out and rolling 2010 entries to 2011 wouldn’t be fair to those looking to register for next years race. As for a partial refund?……only as a last resort and an easy way out of the whole thing. We’ve all trained for this and none of us are quitters. With a little less than 6 months until showtime, the WTC should immediately scratch the Gulf swim and start looking at an alternative solution.

  • Keith Holden

    Hope is all we realy have guys. We still have to train and still have to hope that Ironman Florida Has a backup plane. Clearwater this year had one, due to rough seas they had the swim in the bay. Stay positive people, HOPEFULLY it works out

  • Ironmanforlife
  • Keith Holden

    I just found some promising info from Ironman regarding the race in Florida. Please go to http://iamtri.com/group/ironmanflorida2010. A fellow athlete ( Loreto Sulit) recieved a responce that seems to indicate that IronMan Florida Is looking for alternate swim locations.
    Lets cross our fingers.

  • anonymous

    OK, so a little birdie who has insider information has told me that FL IM 2010 is considering moving the race to Clermont, FL where they hold The Great Floridian.

    If you know anything about Clermont you will know it’s a lot hillier than PCB.

    This is serious, legit information here.. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, although I don’t know why they would, but I am remaining anonymous to protect my identity and the identity of my little birdie.

  • Red

    It’s also Closer to the Orlando airport. If they are seriously considering this, they better let us know so we can make travel/lodging arrangements.

  • Jon

    GFT is a much different race then Ironman Florida. The swim is actually very nice in Lake Minneola and the water was like glass last year. The bike course couldn’t be more different, and would probably be on par with the most difficult Ironman bike courses when you combine lots of short steep climbs, no long staight descents for recovery, lots of wind, and Florida heat and humidity. The run would be about the same. GFT used to be one of the biggest ironman distance events in the country but lost its prestige over the years as everyone wanted the Ironman brand events and the chance to qualify for Kona. Last year was actually a little depressing with how small the field was. It would be terrible for Panama City if they lost the event for the year, but would be a huge boon to Clermont. I’d be curious to see if they’d do two seperate events, as I was thinking of registering again for this year. If they just cancel IM Florida, consider doing GFT, and definitely prepare for a slower more difficult course.

  • jdt

    You have got to be kidding me. That GFT cours is no place for first time IM. I was bringing my son to IMFL to do his first IM because of the flat course. Plus our family would get to stay 4 days on the ocean. PLUS I was driving to to PCB. Now CLERMONT adds 4 or more hours to the trip one way ! I have no f’n desire to go to Central Florida instead. REFUND MY MONEY NOW.
    Hopefull the ‘anonymous’ poster is full of shit !

  • anonymous

    I’m not and I’d really prefer not to do the GFT course too. We ride in Clermont a lot for training and it basically sucks. I couldnt see them having the same course for IMFL as they do for GFT.. maybe they would take the bike south of Clermont where it’s less hilly.

  • Red

    Although a flat course can be fast, it can also be boring. I love me some hills so I’m fine with the GFT course, but I totally see where folks who signed up for flat, would be disappointed/pissed at the hardest bike course in IM. If they do move it to the Orlando area,(a) they ought to tell us ASAP so we can alter our training and (b)should offer anyone who wants their money back.

  • Keith

    Hills or flat, I don’t care. I’m from Newfoundland and all we have here are hills so no big deal to me. I do understand why some would be disapointed with hills when your training for flats. Red has a point, they need to let us know what’s going on. I’m sure of one thing, the not knowing is driving me nuts.

  • David Carr

    Don’t worry about hills in Clermont.. all the drafters that are normally in IMFL will be there.. just jump on the back of one of their pace lines.

  • Cal

    I heard that they were considering changing the venue to central Florida. The same course as the great Floridian ironman.

  • JY

    From the Walton Sun:

    “It’s five months away from Ironman Florida, and Race Director Ben Rausa has identified five bodies of water as possible venues to relocate the 2.4-mile swim on Nov. 6: Carl Gray Park, Lake Powell, the Intercoastal Waterway, St. Andrews State Park and Deer Point Lake.

    “More than likely we’re going to be closer to town,” Rausa said. “We don’t want to lock in, but we want people to know we’re looking at places.”

    Rausa stressed there will be a full-scale triathlon, not just a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run, but the logistics of having to relocate the swim would mean two transition areas and having to rack almost 6,000 bikes twice. Rausa will host a meeting on Aug. 3 with local law enforcement and government officials to help determine the best alternative, if needed, to stage the swim.”

  • David Carr

    Good to know they are looking at other options. I would be PISSED if I showed up and was told that I was only cycling and running.. mostly for the bragging rights. I have several friends who are doing IMFL this year and they’re all stressed out about this.

    And by “having to rack almost 6,000 bikes”, I assume he means 2,300 bikes. Nothing like exaggerating a bit.

    I’ve actually had very good luck (from a participant perspective) with full-distance triathlons that have different T1/T2 locations, but I can imagine it’s the nightmare from hell for race management.

  • Joshua

    I just did Boise which has two transition areas, and while I didn’t like it, there are worse things in life, like training for a full Ironman only to find out you’re doing a duathlon when you show up.

  • Red

    Uh, wouldn’t they have to rack the 6 million bikes twice anyway (1 transition area: rack before the race, rack after the ride/2 transition areas: rack before the race, rack after the ride)?

    Or are they just concerned about having enough bike racks for the 6 billion bikes?

  • David Carr

    Red, he’s referring to the logistics of having to secure two locations, not the actual work effort of an athlete putting his or her bike on a rack.

    Transition areas have to be big to accommodate 6 trillion bikes.

  • Ironmanforlife

    I just got a call from my daughter about 2 hours ago and she was at the beach in front of the Boardwalk host hotel in Panama City Beach. She has been there all week and she told me that the beach and water are absolutely perfect. She even swam with googles and never once saw anything that even looked like oil. I still think there is hope.

  • sbrxxx

    I agree we need to know sooner, rather than later, what will be done. I also agree that they shoud move the swim if necessary. Or ultimately, it should be a full refund for this year’s event AND guaranteed entry to next year’s. Any costs borne thus far should be recovered from BP.

    I’m flying in from Montreal – flight & hotel already booked – so if they’re gonna cancel the swim, they should notify everyone soon.

    Good luck to all.

  • David

    sbrxxx, it will be a full triathlon… what’s in question is where the swim will be held. And you can forget any ideas about Ironman refunding money. Even if the Gulf were actively burning on race day, you wouldn’t get a refund from them.

    Would be sweet if you guys end up swimming in the intracoastal waterway. My first iron distance event was in a channel of the ICW up in North Carolina and it was really awesome. You enjoy the warmer water of the ocean in fall months but not the choppy waves that are typical in PCB. When I competed the in Gulf Coast Triathlon last year in PCB, the swim was like being in a washing machine.

    Good luck everyone!

  • Dale

    Hey gang – raced at I’M Florida last year and signed up again – just in panama city this week and looks to be clear right now – no oil – no tar balls and no dispersant – beaches and water clear and as above choppy – looks right now as if you should continue your training – swim included – good
    Luck everyone

  • http://www.ironstruck.ca Ironstruck Ray

    The best case scenario is that the swim will in the Gulf will be deemed safe and the course will not change.

    They also have time(unlike other events like Lake Placid where the weather turned ugly in the past)to make other swim arrangements.

    Rest assured that they are well aware that an Ironman without a swim is “not” an Ironman, but a duathlon and that would be a last case scenario.

    As far as being giving an entry to everyone to Kona, that simply will never happen. People spend their entire Ironman careers trying to win a spot to that Hawaii and it is the most sought after endurance race entry in the world.

    Besides, I have been in the race in Kona in the past and the harbor where the swim starts is not all that big and restricts the number of triathletes that can be accommodated and wave starts are pretty much out of the question.

    I sincerely hope it goes well for all of you as I am well aware of the challenges of getting to the Ironman start line, especially if it’s your first one.

    Train Safe,
    Ironstruck Ray