Considered one of the pinnacles of endurance and fitness, a full Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile (3.86 km) swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.25 km) bike ride and finishes with a 26.2 mile (42.1 km) run. There is a 17-hour time limit on the race; however, according to Ironman, elite athletes typically finish in less than nine hours!
Choosing to race in a full Ironman event is a serious commitment to fitness. Participants can expect to pay $650 – $700 to register for a race, and training often spans many months or even a year or two for those first-timers. As might be expected, Ironman athletes are incredibly dedicated to their training, nutrition and rest. On average, racers may train anywhere from 5 to 30 hours a week, splitting their time between biking, swimming, running and weight training.
Keep in mind that it takes time for the body to adapt to the new stresses of training without the risk of injury. With a two-plus year plan, you can set up a steady progression from Olympic to half-Ironman to full Ironman that conditions your body—and your family and work colleagues—to your training regimen and schedule.
When deciding what Ironman race to sign up for, participants need to consider: seasonal weather conditions, daylight, family and work commitments, and even pool access. All of these have to all be considered in the training equation when deciding whether to participate in a early spring, summer, late summer, fall or winter Ironman. Yes, you can run an Ironman in the winter — check out races in the southern hemisphere.
Fueling the athlete
All of that time practicing for their big day means that competitors need to fuel themselves properly. So what do you eat to fuel up for such a big race? A majority of a participant’s diet comes from carbohydrates to help them recover from grueling workouts, but the rest of their plate is filled with lean proteins and healthy fats. You won’t see many desserts on an Ironman menu!
According to some of the top Ironman competitors, the plan for success is fairly simple:
- Cut the processed junk – that’s right, no more chips on Sunday night!
- Cut the sugar – grandma’s cookies will have to wait.
- Eat nutrient-dense food – here’s to you, salad bar.
- Drink water – good old H2O
- Go for protein – chicken, anyone?
- Go for good fats – go nuts for nuts.
Elite competitors may even employ coaches to personalize their training and nutrition to better their chances of finishing in a top spot.
NOTE: The Ironman North American Championship has been rescheduled to September.
One of Utah’s most popular state parks will once again play host to one of the world’s premier athletic events. Sand Hollow State Park – in Hurricane, Utah – has been selected to host the Ironman North American Championship on May 2, 2020. With its stunning red rock formations and clear blue waters, the iconic Southwestern venue is the perfect backdrop to watch some of the fittest people on Earth compete in the Ironman’s swim, bike and run components. One of three cities selected, St. George will host the Ironman once every three years, beginning in 2020.
Sand Hollow State Park and the historic city of St. George are sure to see some serious racers come 2020. According to Ironman, 75 people will qualify for the Vega World Championship Ironman in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – a “who’s who” of Ironman races.
Beginning in the cool blue waters of Sand Hollow State Park, racers will complete the swim portion of the race. Next, bikers will compete through the park’s incredible red terrain. And finally, athletes will run the 26.2 miles from Sand Hollow through the beautiful surrounding areas to the finish line in St. George’s historic downtown.
With dining and entertainment options galore, and a short 45 minute ride to Zion National Park, spectators are encouraged to attend the race. Competitors and fans alike will surely enjoy their time sightseeing, eating and playing in one of Utah’s most scenic locations.
Parking for the race will be available at Sand Hollow State Park. Spectators are encouraged to download the Ironman Tracker App to follow their racer on race day. For more information visit the official St. George Ironman North American Championship webpage.
St. George has also been selected to host the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championship triathlon and will host the full-distance Ironman again in 2023.
By Cheryl McCollum and Joe Pueschner
Joe is a TDS Communication Intern, and a senior at the University of Wisconsin Madison who loves to cook, hit the gym, and listen to podcasts.