Gerry Hubers had a feeling about this year’s ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta.
“I felt coming into this that it could be a special day,” he said. “The weather was great. It was 68 (degrees) when I was on the bike and 72 at the finish. These were ideal conditions.”
The 51-year-old from Marietta, Ga., set personal bests in all three legs of the triathlon. He wasn’t the only competitor to finish better than expected on a nearly perfect day of racing.
“As an athlete this was one of those days that you want to see,” first-year race director A.J. Sills said. “With the weather being as cooperative as it was, it made for a great race day. It was cool in the morning.”
A swift current on the Savannah River helped the athletes get off to a quick start Sunday morning during their 1.2-mile swim.
“We saw lots of personal records on the swim,” Sills said. “That current did its job.”
Temperatures remained cool and skies were overcast on the 56-mile bike ride through Aiken County. A light rain began to fall on downtown Augusta later in the afternoon and turned heavier as the awards ceremony began at 4 p.m.
“A good amount of the field was in before the rain started,” Sills said. “But anyone who was running when the rain came was not complaining. It felt good.”
The ideal weather conditions helped several triathletes set personal records. Only 229 competitors broke the 5-hour mark a year ago. More than 400 did Sunday.
The spectators also enjoyed the race conditions. Ray and Mary Jane Loudis made the trip to Augusta from Fort Myers, Fla., to see their son, Michael, compete. They set up along the river at 6 a.m. for the start of the race and later relocated to a spot along 7th Street between Broad and Reynolds streets to cheer on the competitors as they covered the final half mile.
“The energy in the air has been just electric,” Ray Loudis said. “This is a beautiful city and a great event.”
Alan Rogers was among the first Augusta residents across the finish line, clocking in under five hours for the first time in three tries. The 40-year-old finished 68th in his age group and 343rd overall out of more than 3,300 competitors.
“It’s getting more and more competitive,” he said. “The times did seem to be lower, and I think you can contribute that to the weather. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”