Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Course review

    Posted On May 15 2015

      By Vinnie Santana – Triathlon coach at


      The inaugural Ironman 70.3 Vietnam was held in Da Nang and saw over 1000 athletes from 54 different countries to compete at this well organized race by the experienced team of Sunrise events.

      Da Nang is one of Vietnam’s biggest cities and offers direct flights from several cities in Asia, or if you need a connecting flight from Hanoi or Ho Chin Min, there are plenty of options.

      Once you are in Da Nang, the race hotel is only 15 minutes drive away and if you are on a budget there are plenty of good options that are only 3-5km away from the race start, taxis there are easy and the organizers offers shuttle buses.

      This is a great destination races as you may also combine with a cultural weekend (visiting Hue and Hoi An), enjoy the five star facilities of the hosting hotel and the nice scenery of the course.

      While the swim and bike are fast, the heat will certainly slow you down in this race, don’t expect a fast run split and be ready to run at 35+ degrees Celsius.


      Swim 1.9km (one loop – rectangle shaped)

      A rectangle shaped swim course makes the swim start a little more important than in other races since the first buoy and turn (to the left) is relatively close (300m) to the beach and If you are a high performance athlete, you must have a faster started to avoid getting stuck behind the slower swimmers who may start too fast and make the bend before you.

      At the same time, as a beginner athlete, make sure you get your pacing right and be patient with a slow start, as if you happen to start too fast, you will have several athletes swimming around and over you and that may create panic.


      Practice fast starts to avoid traffic after the first buoy

      The rest of the swim is very smooth and straight forward, but you have 6 turns to make the rectangle rather than the usual 3 turns of a triangle shaped course. Make sure you practice enough sighting while training as the course is very dynamic.

      See also:  Ironman Gurye, Korea Race Preview

      Once out of the water you have a relatively long (300m) run through the Hyatt resort to transition area and this needed to be accounted for both your swim and bike strategy as you will likely see a very high heart rate at that point and you want to be in control and lower this at some point on the bike.


      Bike 90km (16km out, 3 laps 19.2km, 16km back)

      The first 16km takes you from the transition area through town to the 19.2km loop where you will spend most of the day.

      The wind was blowing very hard in the heads leading to the event but it got very calm on race day, so be ready for some strong cross winds as most of the bike course is along the ocean (with a great view!).

      During the first 16km you will have 1-2 lanes that are well closed to traffic but another 1-2 lanes open to traffic right next to you, but once you are on the 19.2km loop, traffic is 100% closed.

      3 loops of 19.2km at 100% car free roads makes 2/3 of the course

      3 loops of 19.2km at 100% car free roads makes 2/3 of the course

      The course is all flat apart from one bridge that you climb only once at the 15km and 75km mark respectively, the bridge isn’t long or steep, so you can bring flat road gearing


      A bridge is the only "hill" of the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam bike course

      A bridge is the only “hill” of the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam bike course

      While you may be too focused on your race to enjoy the scenery, the bike course has great views and mixes the new and modern Da Nang with its high rises, with local fisherman villages and of course the nice beaches of Da Nang.

      You will have aid stations at the 16k mark, then every 10km (at the u-turn of the 19.2k lap) and the last 16km you won’t find any aid station until you reach transition, so make sure you grab a bottle of liquids before heading to transition

      See also:  Ironman Performance - When things go wrong


      Run 21km (10.5km out, 10.5km back)

      The run course is very straight forward and all flat. You run 10.5km by Danang’s pristine coastline in 35 degrees heat, then run back to the hotel.

      Most of the run is by the beach and with zero shade - expect a hot day

      Most of the run is by the beach and with zero shade – expect a hot day

      While on race day there could be some showers and clouds, expect the worse in terms of heat as this could be literally the worlds hottest race. Adjust your training plan and race day nutrition and strategy for a slow run split. The organizers were on top of this situation and provided aid stations every 1.5km

      One important touch about this race was the finish line set up on sand. It made for beautiful finish line pictures, but if you cramp easily, be very patient and avoid the typical sprint finish!

      The last 100m is on sand - be patient especially if you cramp easily!

      The last 100m is on sand – be patient especially if you cramp easily!

      Enjoy your race in Vietnam and see you on the course!

      Race Day Photos:

      Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Best Swim Photos

      Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Best Bike Photos

      Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Best Run Photos

      Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Best Finish Photos

      Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Best Photos – Pro Race

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