Though many Ironman triathlons are earning a reputation for filling quickly (Ironman Arizona 2013 sold out in a mere 40 seconds after opening), plenty of options still remain for triathletes looking to conquer 140.6 miles in 2013. A variety of well-established races in North America still have registration spots open for their iron-distance offerings. Note that some of these races are only a few months away, so you’d need a great base fitness at this point to commit to the full distance.
Aug. 25, 2013
The time-trial start of the Ironman Louisville swim is ideal for athletes apprehensive about a mass-start swim. Athlete position is first-come, first-serve, and athletes swim upriver around an island before turning to meet the downriver current. As far as bike and run courses go, Louisville is relatively benign. The two-loop bike course totals 2,060 feet in elevation gain, and the run is relatively flat. If a wetsuit is a must for you, skip Louisville, as water temperatures for the race are expected to be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The challenge, however, lies in the weather – temperatures range between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit on race day with very high humidity, making it for a sweaty race-day experience.
“It is very hot,” says Adam Folts, who completed Ironman Louisville in 2012, “but there are plenty of aid stations on the course. It has some cool features, like running on a bridge, and the scenery is beautiful.”
Photos: 2012 Ironman Louisville
Rev3 Cedar Point
Sept. 8, 2013
Make this one a family vacation – in addition to racing in and around the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, Rev3 offers a “Little Rev” family adventure race and “Kids Rev” triathlon the day before the 140.6 mile “Full Rev.” Participants especially appreciate the family-friendly environment at the finish line, where kids, grandparents – even dogs! – are allowed to share in the experience of running through the finisher’s chute.
Brandon Henneman enjoyed his Cedar Point experience: “ The diversity of going from lakeshore and resorts, to back roads and cornfields, to a historic downtown throughout the day was great. The course has PR potential, but just enough turns and elevation to keep things interesting.”
Though the bike course has no steep climbs, lengthy false flats are present, which can wear athletes down towards the end of their ride. Once off the bike, athletes follow a flat, 2-loop run course along Lake Erie and through downtown Sandusky.
Typically, September in Ohio brings great weather, with an average temperature of 73 degrees – perfect for the event and a few post-race loops on Cedar Point’s many roller coasters.
Photos: 2012 Rev3 Cedar Point
Sept. 21, 2013
ChesapeakeMan brands itself as an “endurance festival,” and the title fits. The event celebrates all forms of endurance, from a 2.4 mile swim race to the “Skipjack,” a unique 75.2 mile triathlon. The crown jewel of the weekend, however, is ChesapeakeMan, the iron-distance race that utilizes much of the same course as the popular Ironman 70.3 Eagleman race.
Athletes swim in the Hambrooks Bay section of the Choptank River, where waters are shallow and brackish, but calm. Athletes then follow a flat, picturesque course through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge followed by a flat, three-loop run course.
The course facilitates camaraderie and a sense of community, reflecting the values of the non-profit race organizers, TriColumbia. Proceeds from ChesapeakeMan are donated to charities, including the YMCA, Challenged Athletes Association, and Paralyzed Veterans Association.
“There’s a real small-town feel to ChesapeakeMan, and that makes it so comfortable,” says Ali Makins, who raced in 2011, “One of the aid stations is run by the family whose yard it’s in, and I just love that.”
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Oct. 19, 2013
Who said Florida was flat? The Great Floridian, taking place annually in Clermont, Fla., is a climber’s dream. After a two-loop swim in the calm waters of Lake Minneola, athletes tackle over 6,000 feet of climbing over 112 miles, including a technical climb up Sugarloaf Mountain.
“Be prepared to leave your ego out on the course,” laughs 2012 finisher Richard Chackman, “Honestly, I enjoyed the struggle. I’m really proud to say I completed that bike course. That is one of my proudest moments in triathlon.”
Athletes are rewarded for their performance on the bike with a flat, spectator-friendly run and expansive finish line festival. The iron-distance race also offers relay and aquabike options.
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Beach to Battleship
Oct. 26, 2013
When prompted to describe the course for North Carolina’s Beach to Battleship iron distance triathlon, participants typically use two words: “iconic” and “fast.” Both are accurate.
“I would suggest this race to anyone, but especially first-timers,” says Josh Thurman, who completed the race in 2012, “The course isn’t too difficult and it’s less expensive than most. I also liked the fact I could wait longer before signing up because I wasn’t sure how my body would respond to increased training volume.”
The swim has all the elements of a PR time: point-to-point, salt water, wetsuit-friendly, and the aid of a strong current. After emerging on Wrightsville Beach, athletes ride a flat 112-mile course in and around Wilmington before transitioning to a two-loop run course around Greenfield Lake.
The finish line is one for the memory books, with large crowd support calling athletes to the timing mat at the USS North Carolina Battleship.
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Dec. 1, 2013
Cozumel, Mexico, a popular vacation destination, allows athletes to end their season with a bang (and a few post-race margaritas) at the final North American Ironman of the year.
“The ocean swim at Ironman Cozumel is like going on a 2.4 mile snorkel trip in an aquarium.” Says John Jenkins, who completed the race in 2011. “It’s absolutely beautiful, and has lots of fish and sea life to distract you along the way.”
The bike and run courses are known for speed, with flat-and-fast straightaways offering ample time in aero position. Spectators will enjoy the ease and frequency in which they can spot athletes – both the bike and run courses are three loops apiece.
Don’t mistake “fast” for easy, however – the December weather in Cozumel is beautiful, but windy. The presence of strong winds can create difficult current in the ocean swim and have prompted officials to ban disc wheels on the bike course for athlete safety. Heat is also a factor.
“Triathletes racing Ironman Cozumel should be honest with their ability to perform in hot, humid conditions,” warns Jenkins. “It’s flat and fast if you can handle the heat and humidity. Training in conditions similar to race day is critical to assure a positive outcome in this race.”
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