I headed over to Tempe Beach Park. This is the location of the Start, Finish and both transitions. For those that don’t know, transitions (also called T1 and T2) are where you go from swimming to getting on your bike (T1) and where you get off your bike and start the marathon (T2). We’ll talk in more detail as I get closer to my own Sprint Tri.
By using a map from the Ironman website I was able to locate the locations and routes for all three legs of the race. The swim starts under a bridge and basically goes down past the following bridge where they turn around and swim back, this little trip is 2.4 miles long. Simple right? Yea...try it! Did I mention there are 2800 other bodies in the water with you? It's basically a full contact free for all fight in 12 feet of water!
Once out of the water, they throw on some shoes, a helmet, some sun glasses and a lot of sun screen, it’s time for the flattest bike ride I’ve ever seen in my life. The bike course is roughly 37.3 miles long, that doesn’t sound too bad until you realize they have to ride the course three times. For those who struggle with math, that’s 112 miles. Some will notice that I said the route is flat, but it should be noted that the route is also painfully exposed to the heat and the wind. The only shade comes from the two underpasses along the route. There is only one notable hill and that comes right before the turn around, while it’s not exceptionally steep by Ohio standards (we’d call it an incline at best), it is two miles long. It will first come at 18.5 miles and it shouldn’t pose a real problem, but at 93 miles (lap 3) it could be more challenging.
Once they find a way to get off your bike, it’s time to change shoes and run a full marathon, 26.2 miles. This is done on some very nice running trails that border the river/lake that they started the day in. It’s much like the bike course in that it’s extremely exposed to the elements. Also like the bike course, the run requires multiple laps, but it only takes two laps. The “trails” are all paved, they appear to be concrete, but they did not bother my knees when I did my little jog (of course I only did 3 miles and I did some walking)
The course is beautiful, the scenery is breathtaking. As the sun goes down, the bridges are all lit up in some way. The picture I have included is sunset over the walking bridge that MK will go across four times in her quest to become an Ironman!