Last week the World Triathlon corporation announced that it was forced to move next year's Ironman Florida 70.3 from the Walt Disney World Resort to Lake Eva Park near Haines City, Florida due to upcoming construction at the Disney Resort.
For almost a decade Ironman Florida 70.3 was a very special and unique highlight of the ever expanding Ironman 70.3 race series. There can be no doubt that it was the most family friendly Ironman race of all. In fact, we would include the Disney Ironman Florida 70.3 race on any Top Ten List of must do triathlons.
The Fort Wildness Campground, the longtime venue of the race, is not only in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, but it offers the perfect combination of family fun, super easy race day access and spectator viewing. Plus, it was perhaps one of the only Ironman races where athletes would actually run by their cabins during the race as their families cheered them on to the finishline.
At the The Fort Wildness Campground you could fall out of bed on race day and in a few minutes walk or bike to the start of the race, race by your cabin as your family and friends cheered you on in air-conditioned comfort, ride a shuttle to one of Disney's water parks after the race to cool down, have dinner in China, Germany, or France at Epcot, and watch the incredible Epcot laser/fire works show to conclude your day...without ever having to get into your car and drive.
Recently on the Slowtwitch forum IM Florida 70.3 race director Tom Zeibart tried to put a positive spin on the new venue by writing:
"When we saw the site at Lake Eva in Haines City, we knew if work very well for the event. Lake Eva Park is a city owned facility that includes a wonderful 25 yard pool and splash area, a bandshell with a nice green lawn, tennis courts, pavilions, a community center and a white sand beach. The 56 mile bike course has a little less traffic then our course in Orange County around Disney. The run course is around Lake Eva in a very nice neighborhood.
We are very excited about this new venue and think that it will be great for both athletes and spectators. Families can stay in hotels or rental houses that are 15-20 min. from the race site and 20-25 min. from Disney and Universal. The new LegoLand in Winter Haven is also under 15 min. away from Haines City."
We think that like Kona, the Disney IM Florida 70.3, is the crown in the jewel of the Ironman 70.3 race series. There is no other 70.3 IM (or perhaps even full Ironman race) that makes for a better family vacation.
It is one of the only race venues where moms/dads and racers of all ages can have a completely guilt free, care free, worry free, drama, free, stress free race while the kids had one of the best times of their lives.
All you had to do was check into the Disney Resort, park your rental car, and just enjoy that world famous Disney hospitality and customer service.
We hope that this is just a temporary one year move for Ironman Florida 70.3. Because with so many new 70.3 races being added every year the race series needs this one special race to make it shine.
Have you raced the Disney half IM? What do you think about the move? Please use the comments to let us know below.