Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tips For Selecting Your Next Ironman

Iron Gina Shand is running out of fingers to count her Ironmans on. Here's some fun yet practical advice and "awards" from her experiences to help you choose your next IM!

As this triathlon season is winding down, there is a lot of discussion of what Ironman should be next on the list. With the addition of several new races over the past couple of years (Boulder, Maryland, Chattanooga, etc.) races are not selling out in minutes as they have in past years. Many people consider proximity to a race and the type of course when selecting a race. There are tons of race reports out there highlighting which races are “easy” (no such thing, I don’t care if the swim is downstream or the bike is flat) and which are “brutal” (It’s at least 140.6 miles and 8 hours working out, right? They are all brutal.) I decided to put together some other things to consider based on my personal experiences at Ironman Texas, Ironman Florida, Ironman Mont Tremblant, Ironman Chattanooga, and Rev3 Cedar Point.

crowd support helps, especially when the bike course is 4 mi too long!
(should be the correct distance next year)

Best Bike Crowd Support Experience – Mont Tremblant, Runner up – Chattanooga

You can’t beat biking through the small French-Canadian village of Saint Jovite where the streets are lined with people eating, drinking, and yelling at you in French. I don’t know what they were saying, but I felt like a rock star. At Chattanooga, Ironman provided a shuttle service for spectators to come out to Chickamauga, around the halfway point, to cheer. It was nice to see them after 50 miles of riding in rural Georgia.

Most Costumed Spectators on a run course – Texas, Runner up – Chattanooga

The majority of the run in Texas is along the canal walk, so there are tons of people out drinking and partying all day. Including a man with a trash can drum that chased people back and forth for hours. I have to give a shout out to the couple in the Speedos wearing unicorn masks and rainbow suspenders on the highway in Chattanooga. There was also an Elvis on the pedestrian bridge that I heard was pretty entertaining. I missed him on the bridge but did see him getting arrested at the end of the night.

Best pre-race practice swim - Mont Tremblant

They had a coffee boat. Need I say more?

Most reasonably priced accommodations – Florida

So many condos within a mile of the finish line for $100 per night. Also – highest concentration of tattoo and “adult entertainment” establishments for your support crew. Honorable mention as well for closest Walmart to transition.

Best Event color scheme – Chattanooga

For you fashionistas out there, I loved the teal and black. It was a nice break from red and pink.

Best post-race food – Mont Tremblant

Beer, pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs, fruit, and of course, poutine. French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds = best post-race food ever, per my husband (editor's note: Magic Mike Espejo seconds the motion). Sorry Texas, your burritos have nothing on poutine.

Best logistics/crowd control at a swim start – Chattanooga

Major props to the Ironman team for the execution of getting all of the athletes and spectators 2.6 miles from T1 to the swim start. I saw the line to board and thought there was no way they were going to make it happen. They loaded buses like nobody’s business.

Best non-swag benefit– Rev3 Cedar Point

If you race or volunteer, you are granted priority access to the park the Friday before the race two hours before the general public. Awwww yeah. Best roller coasters ever!

Best Medical Tent - Texas

I have had multiple friends validate this award. They give out IVs like they are candy. That’s what you get when a hospital is the title sponsor.

Best Volunteers – All of them!!

I can’t make a “best of” without thanking the volunteers. Every race has amazing volunteers. From the people who are there for their loved ones, to the athletes giving back, to the poor 16 year old girls in Florida getting community service hours who had no clue what they were getting into when they volunteered in the women’s change tent (sorry girls, you can’t unsee that), to the Fire, EMS, and Police Officers who keep us safe for hours while still cheering us on. Ya’ll are the best!

I hope these “awards” shed some light on these races to help you narrow down your choices for 2015.

Feel free to leave a comment with a new award or your personal choice!

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Don't Sign Up For An Ironman!!

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