Athlete and Spectator Guide to Ironman Maryland
Ironman Maryland is one of our favorite Ironman races. In 2015, Crew Racing had a large group of athletes go do the race, all of which were first time Ironman athletes. The town of Cambridge, Maryland is awesome and knows how to put on an awesome race.
Through our years of going to the race and coaching athletes to PRs and finishes, we have learned a lot of about the race for athletes and spectators.
When planning for Ironman Maryland expect the unexpected. In 2015, the race was moved due to a hurricane. When rescheduled two weeks later, it was cold on race day and the swim was shortened due to choppy water. In 2016, the swim was eliminated and part of the run course was flooded. The weather was on the chilly side, but manageable. However, 2017 was a perfect day for a race. With the time of year in Maryland, be prepared mentally to race in the heat, the cold or a temperate day and be ready for wind. Bring your regular race kit, plus cold weather cycling and running apparel.
Race Morning and Swim Start
Parking is located at one of the nearby schools. From there, you are bused into transition. Ideally, arrive a little bit earlier than you would normally so you are not waiting for a bus. They have ample busing, so this should not be a problem, but it makes one less thing to worry about.
The swim start is located relatively close to transition and has a lot of porta potties. Expect to wait to use one before the race start. Previously, this race has not had an area to warmup pre-swim due to the entrance to the swim being a boat ramp. The race now starts on the beach and finishes on the boat ramp. Due to the small size of the beach, Ironman probably won’t have an area to warmup. Ideally, try to get in a little jog to prime your body for the excitement at the beginning of the swim.
With the swim, expect some chop as the river is named the Choptank River for a reason. Expect the most chop on the back half of each loop and the finish of the swim. However, you will have the current at your back during this section, so this is a good area to lengthen up your swim stroke and let the current aid you if possible.
Finally, due to this being a late season race and the amount of rain fall the east coast has seen in the past several weeks, this swim will most likely be wetsuit legal. The water is slightly briny, so if you have any issues with salt water, leave a bottle of clean water in your transition bag that you can rinse off with as you run to your bike. Wearing a wetsuit will also help to cut down on irritation.
Several days before the race, ask your athlete if they have a ball park time for their swim. There are no splits in the middle of the swim, so their estimate is your best guess. Start your watch when they go into the water and just hang out until they have about 15 minutes until their finish time is up and then wait to cheer them on!
T1 has typically been located on a grass field. Due to rain, this field has the potential to be rather muddy. If you are using Speedplay pedals or some other type of pedals that do not clip in well if they are covered with mud, carry your shoes to just before the mount line or use cleat covers. Remove the cleat covers before mounting your bike. Most Ironman races do not let athletes leave their bike shoes on their bike.
Ironman Maryland is a flat course with a lot of exposed, open roads. Because of this, IMMD is notorious for wind. Be ready for it! This bike is all about staying in the aerobars and being able to control the bike under the wind. However, if you are struggling to handle to bike in cross winds, get out of the aerobars. It is better to be safe than to save a couple seconds. Because this course is basically a huge, 2 loop circle you will get wind from every direction at some point in the race. The head wind sections are easier mentally if you know you will have a tailwind at some point and when you have a tailwind, enjoy the free speed.
Cambridge is an awesome town! Use the time that your athlete is on the bike to get some food and catch up on rest. High Street is a great place to go as many resturants line the streets. We recommend getting some crab cakes and just enjoying the town while your athlete is out on the bike.
Be prepared for anything weather wise on the run. Once again due to this race being a late season race, it can be a hot day, a cold day or anything in between. If you plan on completing the race after the 12 hour mark, be sure to stash some colder weather running clothes, a fresh pair of socks and some gloves in your special needs bag. It is a good idea to have these items as an option. If you forget, you can always wear a special needs bag…(we had an engineer do this at this race once). The run is flat, but filled with support.
This is where the fun begins. Ironman Maryland is a 2.5 loop, out back run course, which gives you plenty of opportunities to see your athlete. If you want to see them a lot there are several sections of the course where you will be able to see your athlete multiple times if you hustle. If you stay on Hambrook Blvd, you will be able to see your athlete multiple times. Once you see your athlete on Hambrook Blvd. walk southwest to Bayview Blvd. You will be able to see your athlete again in several minutes. However, if you do not feel like getting a workout yourself, we recommend staying on High St. The restaurants there have a lot of outdoor seating, so it is great to enjoy a good meal, some beer and watch your athletes. High St. is also very close to the finish.
After you finish the race, you will have to pick up your bike and belongs. We recommendation having your faithful Sherpa do this as it can be a bit of a walk after an Ironman. However, if that option is not available, be sure to have a large bag packed in your morning clothes bag so you do not have to carry all of the individual bags along with your bike
We hope this helps you to figure out some of your race day logistics. If you are looking for more helpful triathlon hints and tips, be sure to check out our blog-> Crew Racing Blog