This year, I did my first volunteering & spectating stint at Ironman Louisville. This is the closest full IM event to my home. I wanted to go, take it all in and support a few friends who would be out on course. Since the goal was to volunteer & spectate, I got up early to volunteer as a swim pointer. My shift was from 5a to approximately 8:30a.
Welcome to Ironman Village before the sun comes up!
The swim pointers were ready to receive athletes when they arrived, get them lined up & help them with whatever they needed. We were also instructed to keep the lines tight and orderly.
To be honest, I was surprised how early some athletes go to the swim start. Transition did not close until 6:45am. Race start was 7:30am. There was a 15-20 minute walk from transition to the swim area. We had people lining up for the swim, right after 5a. As a triathlete myself, who is not a super fast swimmer, I’d have been walking out of transition about 6:45 to head to the swim start. Apparently, I’m in the minority. These athletes were on it and ready to rock & roll!
There was a nervous energy in the air. Most people were ready to go; however, a few had small issues like lost swim caps, questions about where to put glasses & morning bags. But overall, the athletes were prepared, respectful of the area and I was super impressed that they didn’t leave behind a bunch of garbage for us to clean up. Best athletes ever!
The Pros took off at 7:20. Age groupers soon to follow at 7:30 in a self seeded rolling start. Easy. Smooth. Everyone was in the water before we knew it. We cleaned up. Then headed back to transition, walking along the river (pic below) to see our athletes head out on the bike. If you want to volunteer and not miss much of your athlete’s day, the swim pointer position is great!
Back at transition the Pros were heading out and we made it in time to see the first of the age groupers. Fast swimmers!
After our athletes left on the bike, we headed to the car to find a spot to see them on the bike. If you are looking for a great place to park for the Great Lawn transition area, look around Floyd Street. Find a spot, walk toward the water & you’ll run right into transition after crossing Witherspoon Street!
Since we were parked on N Floyd Street, we had easy in and out. No issues with race traffic. We were close to the expressways and didn’t have to cross the path of the bike or the run. Winning!
Prior to the race, I did a little research and learned that most who spectate the bike go to Lagrange. But I also learned that the area is congested & on a downhill section of the course where it is particularly difficult to see athletes as they zoom past at high speeds. Several users from the Slowtwitch forums suggested driving out and finding a spot along the route before Lagrange. So that was the plan. A loose one. We took 71 North out of Louisville heading toward the intersection of KY 393 & KY 146. I missed Exit #17 for KY 146. Took the next one, Exit #18 for KY 393, toward Buckner. And dumb luck put us in the perfect spot with a Park & TARC parking area on the corner of Commerce Parkway & 393. We used the parking lot & hiked it up the hill to the corner of 393 & 146. Not crowded. Easy to spot athletes because they just turned from 393 onto 146 and they weren’t at full speed quite yet. Great spot. See my yellow highlighted arrow below to see about where we ended up. Bonus, there was a gas station on the corner of 393 & 146 in case anyone needs a potty or snack break.
We stayed in this location to see our athletes on both loops of the bike. Everyone was having a good time. Darla E & Beth P taking a selfie below. Clint P photo bombing. Random Ironman athletes in the background.
After seeing our athletes a couple times, we headed back to town for lunch. Parked on N Floyd again. Walked straight down to Witherspoon & watched the athletes coming into T2 from the bike. Once they came in, we walked over to Run Out. Saw them again. Then we headed out to the run course. Lots of spots to see the runners within walking distance of transition. However, the majority of the spectators go to the finish area on 4th Street. The finish area is also the beginning of loop 2 for the run. So cruel, right? Yep. Welcome to Ironman. Anyhow, lots happening at the finish area. Food. Drinks. Starbucks. Need I say more? You can cheer for the Pros coming in on 4th Street, as well as the athletes going out on their second run loop as the turn onto Muhammad Ali Blvd.
Great day at Ironman Louisville 2017! Thanks to Sara & Clint P for making the trip down with me.
Thanks to Darla E for some of the photos that you see above. As always, Ironman delivers a great day whether your racing, volunteering or spectating. Its worth the trip. And in case your wondering, we logged over 24 miles spectating. Not for the faint of heart. Probably the best tip I can give, wear real shoes. You’ll thank me later.
** Amanda – TooTallFritz **