When I register for races in other cities I usually opt for the room package that they often have available.
Meaning, I pay for the race entry fee + hotel room together. Sometimes, the prices are exorbitant, though, but it’s often worth it.
In 2018, I raced the Langkawi full Ironman, and booked a room at what appeared to be a beautiful, sprawling, 5-star resort, not too far from the start line. (Berjaya Hotel).
The thing is, the finish line was somewhere else.
“Let’s rent a van,” my wife suggested, as we would be there with her parents and our two kids. With the bike and the luggage, a van was a perfect solution. Furthermore, the rates were reasonable.
I figured with a van, the distance between the hotel and the start or finish would not be an issue. Just drive, right?
But it turned out that the finish line was about 20km from our hotel, so after the full Ironman, I’d have to drive back late at night, totally shattered, in a zombie-like state.
Nobody else in the family has a driver’s license, so I was my own chauffeur.
On top of that, to get from our little cabin-like rooms, we had to ride the hotel golf cart which would irregularly and unreliably come by on its own schedule.
And when it did make it to us, it was usually full, as we were way out at the end of the route, so it already had loaded up with other passengers.
To make things worse, the bridge leading to the hotel had just been washed out, so we had to go off-road over a crude, bushwhacked ‘road’ that was either muddy or dusty, depending on any prior precipitation or lack thereof.
The ungraded and narrow path was eerily dark in the jungle night, and the hills and corners made oncoming traffic a true hazard.
There were inadequate signs, and the attempt at installing lights ended up being spotlights aimed right at the drivers’ eyes.
That rough road, combined with the old, worn-out van suspension was the last thing my body needed after completing a full Ironman.
To this day I shudder at the thought that I actually drove home after that race.
Since then, I’ve booked rooms close to the finish line.
The next year, I tried booking the official hotel, right at the finish line, but the rate was US $660 per night (we were there for three nights) and it was not even in the best shape. (Meritus).
Instead, I went for a cheap 1-star place just a few hundred metres away. It would do the job, and would certainly make my life much easier.
After all, when you finish a race, full or half, all you want is a good meal and a bed, right? Why put yourself through any more superhuman physical feats again?
Book your hotel at the finish line.