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Not Sure Which Ironman? 6 Things to Consider

Once you’ve bit the bullet and decided to embark on the Ironman Journey, the next step in the process is “which race?” You want to look at this closely as there are many factors that you should consider, especially if it’s your first 140.6 or 70.3 event.

*Location, location, location. Do you wish to race fairly close to home? This means that you can most likely drive to the venue transporting your bike and all of your gear. This can significantly reduce travel costs. I would definitely plan on staying at least one night, especially if you expect to finish later in the evening. A closer location to home means friends and family are able to come and cheer you on along the course. This will save you some cash in airline travel and transporting your bike etc.

*Want to make a vacation of it? There are several iron distance events along beautiful coastlines for example IM Florida and 70.3 Oceanside, CA. If you choose one of these, you can bring the kids and make a beautiful vacation of the event. My recommendation is to have your vacation AFTER the event so you can truly relax, eat and drink what you want, and not be anticipating race day. You will need to plan for this at least 6-12 months ahead of time to find your air B&B, hotel, resort or wherever you plan to stay. A racecation is a great way to spend time with family while doing what you love- competing in an Ironman race.

*The course. Are you a hill climber? Or do you love a flat course? This is definitely something to consider when choosing a hilly course event or something flat and fast. If you live in a mountainous area and you’ve perfected your hill climbing technique over the years, then a hilly course with plenty of climbs will challenge you. If you prefer flat and fast, then I suggest something along the coast with not a lot of climbing. Same goes for run- some folks love a challenging run course with lots of climbing, while others prefer flat. Check the bike and run course for the events you are considering, and decide from there.

*What kind of climate do you prefer? If you are used to living in hot humid conditions such as Florida, then IM Lake Placid may not be the race for you. Not a fan of really cold water? I recommend staying in warmer climates where the water temperature doesn’t go much below 70 most of the year. If you enjoy colder climates and that is what your body is used to, then check out races up north and in Canada.

*Logistics. How complicated is the course? Is there more than one transition area? Is the race hard to get to via plane or train? What are the logistics of bike transportation to and from the venue? Is the course known to be quite challenging or good for beginners?

*Time of year. If you are racing in May this means that many of your long rides and runs will be in the coldest months of the year. This is nice if you live in the southern states but definitely not ideal if you live up north.

I hope I have given you some things to think about before you sign up for your next iron distance race. Choose a race that has most of the checks in the block when it comes to what’s important to you. Do your research and see what other athletes had to say about the course and the venue. And when it’s time to find a triathlon coach, reach out to me for a free 15 min phone call by clicking the link below!

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

ACSM Trainer

USA Cycling Coach


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