Ironman Race Advice
Big Kahuna or Barbs Race
Here is the advice given by club members to help me make up my mind
between Big Kahuna and Barbs Race. Do I know which one I am going to
do? No. I am leaning toward Big Kahuna, but the river swim makes Barbs
Race sound interesting. Plus after watching Kona, I am intrigued by
racing on an Ironman course.
Thanks so much for all the advice. You gave me race specific
information so I hope my decision will be an informed onebut hey last
year I made snap decisions regarding racing"like choosing Wildflower to
be my first Olympic Distance"and I enjoyed every race.
Thanks again everyone!
I've done half-vineman twice (my only half-Ironman experiences) and I'm
pretty sure it's the same course as Barb's race. My recommendation
would be to do the Big Kahuna instead - from what I've heard it's an
easier course. The thing about the Vineman course is that, while there
is only one "climb" on the bike (about 45 miles in) the vast majority
of the rest of the course is fairly challenging rolling hills which
makes it really hard to get into a rhythm on the bike. The hills are
too long and steep to power over, and if you jump out of the saddle at
each hill, you'll be toast before you even get on the run. I'm not a
terribly strong biker, and I found the bike course really taxing. Then,
once you get on the run, it's HOT and can be very challenging. On the
plus side, the bike course is GORGEOUS as you are biking mostly by
vineyards the whole time.
Don't get me wrong - Vineman is NOTHING like Wildflower - the hills are
shorter and flatter, but much more numerous. Also, the Vineman run is
mostly flat (maybe a little rolling) with only 2 or 3 hills to go over.
It's a doable race, but if you commit to it - make sure you train
strength and power on the bike. I moved up from Olympic and found I
actually prefer the longer distance as it is more focused on endurance
and less on anaerobic speed (of which I have little).
If you are going to move up to this distance, I'd recommend getting a coach
Big K is a great race and so is 1/2 vineman. 1/2 vineman has an easy river swim though.
I have done both 1/2 Vineman followed by Big Kahuna the last 2 years. I
hear the atmosphere for Barb's Race is fun, and it's the same vineman
course. In comparison, I would say the bike rides are simply different
- Vineman has more up/down quick hills, and Kahuna is more rolling. The
wind at Kahuna is quite challenging on the 1st half, but the way back
into Santa Cruz is quite
fun. I find the run at Kahuna a little easier, and part of it is on
trail. Maybe I've just "raced myself into shape" by doing both, I don't
know. The waves in Santa Cruz have not been a problem, it's a little
cold, but not below 61 or 62. Hope this helps, if you have any other
questions, feel free to ask!
You'll get lots of responses I'm sure but just a few thoughts based on
my own ruminations about these races - never having done either but
having done 3 HIM and 1 IM...
I DID do the Half Vineman which is, I believe, the same course as
Barb's so I do know the course. If I'm right about this, then there's
only one real hill to worry about and frankly, it wasn't much of a
worry after all the hype. Wildflower was MUCH worse - hilly, massive
hill, much rougher roads. Word in the transition area was that Barb's
is great. The women-only thing is good but it doesn't feel too sleepy
because of all the IM competitors. So you get the festive endorphin
atmosphere AND a supportive crowd to race with. But you're right about
the heat - it's just a roll of the dice on that one.
Big Kahuna: I know the area well. I don't think the bike course is
particularly flat, just a good set of rollers and beautiful. I've
thought about doing this since it's been offered for precisely that
reason. My hesitation (besides travel)? What will the surf be like?
Santa Cruz is known for its waves so it's a bit like the T's at Barb's
- what will the dice send your way?
I'm may be at one or both of the races next year so I'd be interested in learning about feedback you get.
Carlyn Challgren Hinds
Good for you for wanting to do a 1/2 IM- I have never done Barb's but I
can recommend the Big Kahuna! It is so well run, the pottery-type big
kahuna finishing medals are cool and the run start ands ends in the
sand! For your first- I would recommend this one- I also recommend it
to anyone who wants to get a PR in a 1/2 IM. The bike has some rolling
hills like on PCH north of Zuma- nothing too big but they are rollers!
The run is flat and can be hot depending on the weather but is is along
the bluffs in Santa Cruz- absolutely gorgeous!
I have done Barbs race before and recommend it highly. I have never done the kahuna race.
Barbs race course is hot -but it starts out foggy in the morning. The
bike course is hilly, but not nearly as bad as wildflower. The route is
a little confusing, so I recommend driving it before hand. The hills
start at about mile 45 (like wildflower), but are not nearly as bad.
(it is still an effort though). It is somewhat a pain to have 2
The best part about the race -I think is that it runs at same time as
the full ironman which means the aid stations are FULLY stocked - due
to the ironman race. Since the chicks do the half, there is NO chance
that they will be out of anything. No half ironman I've ever done
stocks the aid stations like a full ironman-there is no comparison.
Testosterone was never a problem. The swim start was very easy-due to all women.
I did the Full Vineman in 2002. Which that year turned into the
"Ironman" Vineman(officially) because of the Idaho death/ Ironman
turned Duathlon. This was my first Ironman, And I did a 11:13 on that
course. It was Overcast all morning until I got off the bike and THEN
it got warm. But, it wasn't Brutal. We ran WITH the Barb ladies. It's
pretty low key, but a good experience overall. There is only one Real
Hill on the bike(Chalk Hill) and it's not that long. It's nothing like
WildFlower. It's mostly easy rolling hills.
I can't say much for Kuhuna because I have never done it. Although, My
buddy(Ben Cornell) did it and posted a 4:39. So, I may be doing that
race next year. It's pretty darn flat. Although, I heard the water is
Big Kahuna was my first half-ironman this past season. I finished about
20 minutes faster than my expected time. Santa Cruz has the best
weather for racing when it takes place. I thought it was well-organized
and although the bike course was a little tougher than expected because
of the head winds going north, it was a beautiful bike ride. The run
was quite easy and scenic. The swim entry is easy since there are
practically no waves--the water was warmer than advertised. I had a
good time in Santa Cruz--and would do it again except for that it takes
place on the same day as LA.
I did Kahuna last year. It is much hillier, big rollers, than they say,
and plan for a head or crosswind for almost the entire bike. Santa Cruz
was great and the course was very nice
I'd suggest Big Kahuna. Also suggests getting a coach for this distance