8 Things to Expect When Your Town Hosts Ironman

Your Town Hosts Ironman
Pho­to Cour­tesy — www.ironman.com

The Iron­man triathlon is no walk in the park. Ath­letes start with a 2.4‑mile swim, then cycle over a 112 mile course, and fin­ish the race off with a full marathon (26.2 miles). More than 30 Iron­man races take place every year world­wide, from Kalmar, Swe­den to Flo­ri­a­nop­o­lis Island, Brazil to Cairns, Australia.

For the first time ever, Whistler, British Colum­bia took its turn host­ing the Iron­man Cana­da event, which had pre­vi­ous­ly tak­en place in Pen­tic­ton, BC. I (along with all the oth­er res­i­dents) learned a few valu­able lessons about what is involved in host­ing such a tremen­dous event.  As they say, with great pow­er comes great responsibility!

It Doesn’t Affect Just One Day
The Iron­man triathlon may be a one-day event, but ath­letes will be train­ing on the course months in advance to pre­pare them­selves. Unlike on race day, they won’t be able to rely on cor­doned off sec­tions. If your bike or run­ning route involves pub­lic roads, antic­i­pate extra con­ges­tion lead­ing up to the events. Always be mind­ful of shar­ing the road with these ded­i­cat­ed people.

Restau­rants, Pre­pare Your­selves
Train­ing is not just about sport; nutri­tion plays an impor­tant role, too. Many ath­letes will be com­ing in from out of town and will check into their hotels a few days ear­ly. With­out the lux­u­ry of a kitchen to pre­pare their own food, they’ll be check­ing out the local restau­rants. Cooks and servers, pre­pare your­selves for count­less mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Oth­er restau­rant patrons, be aware that these “mods” mean extra time for every­one, so expect delays.

Pho­to Cour­tesy — www.ironman.com

Leave Your Car Behind
Dri­ving on Iron­man week­end can be a recipe for dis­as­ter. Expect road clo­sures, park­ing lot clo­sures, and many, many peo­ple bat­tling for few­er and few­er park­ing spaces. Our rec­om­men­da­tion: Make like an Iron­man and use your bike or your feet to get you around.

Answer the Call to Vol­un­teer
It takes a tremen­dous amount of work to pull off an Iron­man event. Most events require a 1:1 ratio of ath­letes to vol­un­teers. From man­ning aid sta­tions to help­ing with bike tran­si­tions to han­dling pack­age pick ups, there are count­less jobs that need to be filled. Vol­un­teer­ing is a great way to expe­ri­ence the excite­ment of the race from the inside, and is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to inter­act direct­ly with the ath­letes. It’ll give you a whole new appre­ci­a­tion for the event!

Be Pre­pared to Release Your Inner Cheer­leader
Whether or not you actu­al­ly know any­one rac­ing is irrelevant—all Iron­man par­tic­i­pants appre­ci­ate a lit­tle moral sup­port. In the days lead­ing up to the event, pull out some chalk and inscribe moti­va­tion­al words along the event routes.

Check your local Iron­man event’s web­site. They often release the names of par­tic­i­pants along with their bib num­bers. Why not write a good luck mes­sage for a ran­dom stranger? It might be just what they need to get them through a par­tic­u­lar­ly tough mile of their run.

8 Things to Expect When Your Town Hosts Ironman
Pho­to Cour­tesy — www.ironman.com

Embrace the Clien­tele
If you own a shop, café, or restau­rant around town, you’d be wise to seize the oppor­tu­ni­ties that are com­ing your way. For instance, you might offer a dis­count for those with a fin­ish­er t‑shirt or jack­et, or you could have a spe­cial “Iron­man Friend­ly” nutri­tious menu. One local café sold bagged lunch­es for spec­ta­tors to grab and eat along the course as their cheered on their loved ones, and even includ­ed cow­bells and side­walk chalk!

Expect Tears. And Span­dex.
You can expect to see a lot of tears through­out the week­end. You’ll see tears of hap­pi­ness as ath­letes trick­le through the fin­ish line and are pro­nounced to be offi­cial Iron­men over the loud­speak­er. You’ll see their loved ones hug­ging them, tears stream­ing down their face as they see the result of a year of sac­ri­fice. You’ll see tears at the aid sta­tions, where ath­letes pause and won­der whether they have it in them to keep on going.

It is an emo­tion­al event; there’s no doubt about that. Expect tears. And spandex—lots and lots of spandex.

Pre­pare Your­self for Flat­tery
Iron­man loca­tions are care­ful­ly scout­ed. They con­sist of some of the most scenic places in the world to pro­vide for phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing cours­es for the ath­letes. As out-of-town­ers flock to the place you call home, many will expe­ri­ence for the first time the sites that you have grown accus­tomed to see­ing day in and day out.

There is a good chance that vis­i­tors will show­er your home­town with words of praise—the peo­ple, the envi­ron­ment, and all the lit­tle things that make it unique. Try not to let it get to your head! Instead, accept it as a reminder of how lucky you are to get to live there every day.