Spectating an Ironman

Ironman racing season is in full swing. When racing, athletes typically plan meticulously, measuring out every last detail. However, when the same athlete goes to spectate a race, it is often a free for all.

Throughout the years, we have been to many races that we were not racing and have come up with tried and true ways to spectate the races in the best way possible.

Here are some considerations when it comes to planning out your big day of spectating:

1. Mode of Transportation- While your athlete is out on course for 9 to 17 hours, you need a way to get around. Take a look at the course and what is around the course. We typically either recommend a bike or a razor scooter. This will allow you to go to coffee shops and enjoy your day while your athlete is on the bike. It will also allow you to get to further points of the run course where the crowd support is not as robust. If the course is a multi-loop course with dense crowds go with a scooter as you can walk with it through heavy crowds. If the course is an out and back, bikes allow you to get to remote sections of the run course.


2. Food and drinks- Why are athletes the only ones who need to worry about fueling?!?! Be sure to pack calorie dense food with you to snack on, such as protein bars. In addition, scout out places slightly off the course for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you try to eat at a restaurant that is right on the course, you may be waiting for a while. Be sure to pack several bottles of water, as moving around the course can be a good workout but it can dehydrate you (according to Drew’s gps watch, he covered over 20 miles at IMTX 2015). Also, be sure you know of places on the course that you can refill your water supply such as gas stations or convenience stores.

3. Clothing- Be sure to pack clothes for the warmest and coldest parts of the day. Temperatures can change up to 30 degrees in a single day, so be sure to take warm clothes and clothes for the sunshine. Also, be sure to pack a good pair of sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. All of this can go in a bike friendly back pack.

4. Know you athlete- If possible; get an idea of how long it will take your athlete to finish and how fast each leg will be. This will ensure that you have the ability to enjoy the day and see your athlete as much as possible.

5. Footwear- Even if you are not a runner, a good pair of running shoes will allow you to get around in the most comfortable way possible. Avoid sandals and shoes that may lead to foot pain.

6. Caffeine- If you are a coffee drinker, avoid that 11 am and 3 pm lull. Chances are you will have been awake for a while with your athlete. Either scout out some local coffee shops near the run course (if you’re headed to IM Louisville, check out Please and Thank You), where you can get a boost or go with a caffeinated beverage from a convenience store.

7. Cause a scene- At mile 20 of an Ironman, your athlete needs you. They are in a dark place and hurting. Take something that will give them a smile, whether it’s just making noise with a cowbell, a ridiculous outfit or a cardboard cutout of them, try to figure something that will motivate them or make them laugh. Even though you aren’t racing, lifting their spirits can have a huge impact on their performance.


What are some of your favorite methods for spectating an Ironman?

Caitlin GlennComment