Ironman 70.3 Morro Bay “Race at the Rock” Race Review

The inaugural Morro Bay Race took place on May 20, 2023. Morro Bay is a charming town located along the central coast of California. The closest airports to the area are Santa Barbara, approximately a 2-hour drive away, and San Jose, about a 3-hour drive away. Plenty of grocery stores, restaurants, and other amenities are available in the town. While there is no Whole Foods, you can still find quality food options.

? For accommodations, there are several hotel options within walking distance of the race and affordable Airbnbs and VRBOs located about 3 miles away from the race venue. It’s worth noting that May is not a particularly sunny month in Morro Bay, so it’s advisable to bring layers of clothing to accommodate the varying weather conditions.

? Swim: During the practice swim, the water temperature was a chilly 54 degrees but warmed up to a more bearable 58 degrees on race day. The swim takes place in a protected harbor, so there are no waves to contend with. However, be prepared for the cold water with appropriate gear such as a wetsuit (thermal if you have it), booties, and a neoprene cap in addition to the race-specific latex cap. Bring something to put on your feet before the swim start, as there is a 10-minute walk from the transition to the swim start, and it is cold; booties are great; otherwise, throwaway socks or shoes. They offer morning clothes bags, which I recommend since it can be cold and the finish line is at least a mile from the start.  

T1: The transition area requires a long run on turf over a dirt lot. Wearing booties can help protect your feet but may not be conducive to achieving personal records in transition times.

? Bike: It’s important to note the air temperature during the race, which was around 53 degrees and overcast. I recommend a long-sleeve jersey, arm warmers, socks, and gloves. I had no additional layers, it was extremely cold, and the temps dropped to mid-40s with drizzle. Consider the cold weather when planning your nutrition and ensure you can consume your fluids effectively. Adjust your calorie intake accordingly, as you tend to burn more calories in colder conditions. The bike course is rolling hills with moderate climbs, totaling an elevation gain of 1800 feet. There is a headwind outbound and a tailwind on the return. The course is not particularly technical, allowing you to stay in the aero position for most of the ride.

T2: Consider leaving shoes on if you are not wearing socks. However, I strongly recommend socks, as frozen feet on the concrete and the carpeted dirt were painful.   

?‍♀️ Run: The run course offers scenic views and a friendly neighborhood atmosphere with plenty of support from spectators as you pass through downtown. The total elevation gain for the run is 500 feet, with a few punchy climbs but nothing too challenging. The course consists of three loops but was enjoyable for participants. The only negative was the pervasive smell of fried fish along the course, but you are in a seaside fishing village.  

? Finish Line: The finish line is about a mile from the transition area, allowing for a pleasant cooldown walk. Bring a backpack so you can ride back to your car. There is plenty of room in transition for bags.  

?️ Parking: The race organizers recommended parking 9 miles away and using shuttle services. However, many participants found ample street parking available within a mile of the transition area in town.

In summary, Ironman 70.3 Morro Bay offers a unique experience with its cold water and air temperatures, along with the warmth and charm of the town. Despite the challenges posed by the weather, the event was well-received by participants.

Julie Dunkle

CO-FOUNDER, COACH, CHIEF MARKETING MAESTRO / Julie is the badass; the ultimate leader. Her self-belief is contagious. You’ll want to rally behind her, and you’ll feel her rally behind you.