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2013-05-21 2:01 PM

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Subject: What Ironman should I sign up for?
I would like to complete my first Ironman next year and I am wondering what would be a good race to sign up for. I’ve been reading some race reports as well as a few forum threads here where people point out that some races are way more difficult than others due to weather (hot/humidity/wind/etc.), terrain (hills), and/or the course design.

I know this will be the hardest race I will ever do and I would like to do one that is well organized and that matches my abilities: I am not a good swimmer (working on it), good biker, and decent runner. I live in Miami, FL, which means that I am used to train in hot and humid weather, but mostly flat terrain.

A little bit of background: I started with tris last year by doing one Sprint. This year I am doing 4 sprints, 2 Olys, and 1 HIM. My goal will be to finish an IM next year. What race would you recommend? What races should I avoid?

Thank you!!


2013-05-21 3:19 PM
in reply to: davidfedez

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
Well, you've pointed out a few good factors for choosing ...

Since you're in FL you're limited like many of us northerners are as to time frames for open water swim practice. And the fact that you're pretty well acclimated to heat is a pretty good sign for many races.

It will really come down to the time of year that works best for you - ie, do you want to be at your peak training at the height of the heat in FL? And any travel limitations.


Are you wanting to do an Ironman Brand race? Because if you're thinking about 2014 most race will sell out - about a year in advance. Many non ironman brand races don't sell out as quickly but offer high-quality experience. But, I know I did an Ironman race because I really wanted that experience and it was great - I just had to be on top of registration. As far as i can tell you really can't go wrong with the Ironman events in terms of quality and organization. Sometimes there are blips but most race reports you will read will rave about the organization and volunteers.

An obvious choice is Ironman Florida - it sells out fast but is later in the year and not far from you. But Beach 2 Battleship might be a good one to consider.

If the swim is an issue you might want to consider a race with a lake swim ... or even one like Louisville that has a time trial start. Several races are piloting different swim starts this year. The drawback to Lou is that it's in August so your peak training is July/August.

A couple of races have come up as super tough - Los Cabos was said to be crazy, though they are expecting to change the bike route for next year. Couer D'Alene might not be up your alley because the water is usually freezing and the bike is hilly - which might not suit your warmer weather training.

That said, with training, and confidence you can pretty much get through whichever race you choose
2013-05-21 3:40 PM
in reply to: davidfedez

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
While IMFL (and IMAZ) sell out very fast via online registration, you can get early registration by working the 2013 race as a volunteer. So if you are really interested in IMFL in 2014, sign up to volunteer there this year. A 4 hour volunteer shift gets you early registration on Sunday morning, before it opens up to the masses. There are still volunteer spots available, just google "IM Florida volunteer".

I will just add that I also plan on my first full in 2014 and chose IMFL due to its time of year (allows me to train in warm months) and because it is driving distance for me. I had considered IMTX as I have family in Houston, but did not want to have to do the majority of my training in the cold, then risk a hot and humid race day. Last Sunday certainly did nothing to change my mind on that.
2013-05-21 8:59 PM
in reply to: juniperjen

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
Why would he be limited by open water availability? He can train in a pool. He can practice OW this summer to get comfy and then should stick to the poo., to get faster. Something on the flat side for the bike would be a smart choice since Florida has zero real hills.

Originally posted by juniperjen

Well, you've pointed out a few good factors for choosing ...

Since you're in FL you're limited like many of us northerners are as to time frames for open water swim practice. And the fact that you're pretty well acclimated to heat is a pretty good sign for many races.

It will really come down to the time of year that works best for you - ie, do you want to be at your peak training at the height of the heat in FL? And any travel limitations.


Are you wanting to do an Ironman Brand race? Because if you're thinking about 2014 most race will sell out - about a year in advance. Many non ironman brand races don't sell out as quickly but offer high-quality experience. But, I know I did an Ironman race because I really wanted that experience and it was great - I just had to be on top of registration. As far as i can tell you really can't go wrong with the Ironman events in terms of quality and organization. Sometimes there are blips but most race reports you will read will rave about the organization and volunteers.

An obvious choice is Ironman Florida - it sells out fast but is later in the year and not far from you. But Beach 2 Battleship might be a good one to consider.

If the swim is an issue you might want to consider a race with a lake swim ... or even one like Louisville that has a time trial start. Several races are piloting different swim starts this year. The drawback to Lou is that it's in August so your peak training is July/August.

A couple of races have come up as super tough - Los Cabos was said to be crazy, though they are expecting to change the bike route for next year. Couer D'Alene might not be up your alley because the water is usually freezing and the bike is hilly - which might not suit your warmer weather training.

That said, with training, and confidence you can pretty much get through whichever race you choose
2013-05-21 9:34 PM
in reply to: juniperjen

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
WOW! I didn't realize I have to sign up with that much time in advance. Good that I already started to look at it...

After reading all your answers I did some research and I think I would like to do an Ironman Brand race. It is going to be my first one and I think I would like to have that experience. However, as you said, the races sell out fast! I looked at the races that they host and these will work for me:

1. IMFL or IMAZ: Both are late in the year, which is when I think I will be in my top shape. Obviously, IMFL will be my first choice due to easier logistics and because I may be more used to the weather and terrain.

2. IMTX or IM Lake Placid: IMTX may be a little bit too early in the season and I heard this year was really tough, so I will lean more towards Lake Placid. I can redesign my training plan and be in top shape by late July too rather than late in the year.

How fast do these races fill up? I read IMFL sold out in less than one minute last year!! This one is my top choice, so is there any mailing list that I can join to make sure I know when registration opens? I can't make it this year as a volunteer as some of you suggested, since the week after I am doing my first HIM and I would like to prepare for it rather than taking a "long" road trip.

Thank you very much for all your responses. They have been very helpful to start narrowing it down a little bit.
2013-05-22 8:37 AM
in reply to: davidfedez

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
Originally posted by davidfedez

How fast do these races fill up? I read IMFL sold out in less than one minute last year!! This one is my top choice, so is there any mailing list that I can join to make sure I know when registration opens? I can't make it this year as a volunteer as some of you suggested, since the week after I am doing my first HIM and I would like to prepare for it rather than taking a "long" road trip.



IMFL online registration opens the day after the race, so for 2014 it'll open sometime on Sunday Nov 3. I believe it opens at 1pm Eastern time, at which point it becomes a contest of internet speed, typing speed, cut & paste proficiency, etc. I think it's the same for IMAZ - the day after the race, not sure about the time.

Here's a BT thread about this past IMFL online registration: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=451638&start=1

I strongly suggest that if you think you want to do IMFL, sign up to volunteer at the 2013 event and just get in the registration line (reserved for volunteers) on Sunday morning. You'll be registered and driving home by the time the online masses are fighting it out.


2013-05-22 8:37 AM
in reply to: simpsonbo

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
Originally posted by simpsonbo

Why would he be limited by open water availability? He can train in a pool. He can practice OW this summer to get comfy and then should stick to the poo., to get faster. Something on the flat side for the bike would be a smart choice since Florida has zero real hills.

Originally posted by juniperjen

Well, you've pointed out a few good factors for choosing ...

Since you're in FL you're limited like many of us northerners are as to time frames for open water swim practice. And the fact that you're pretty well acclimated to heat is a pretty good sign for many races.

It will really come down to the time of year that works best for you - ie, do you want to be at your peak training at the height of the heat in FL? And any travel limitations.


Are you wanting to do an Ironman Brand race? Because if you're thinking about 2014 most race will sell out - about a year in advance. Many non ironman brand races don't sell out as quickly but offer high-quality experience. But, I know I did an Ironman race because I really wanted that experience and it was great - I just had to be on top of registration. As far as i can tell you really can't go wrong with the Ironman events in terms of quality and organization. Sometimes there are blips but most race reports you will read will rave about the organization and volunteers.

An obvious choice is Ironman Florida - it sells out fast but is later in the year and not far from you. But Beach 2 Battleship might be a good one to consider.

If the swim is an issue you might want to consider a race with a lake swim ... or even one like Louisville that has a time trial start. Several races are piloting different swim starts this year. The drawback to Lou is that it's in August so your peak training is July/August.

A couple of races have come up as super tough - Los Cabos was said to be crazy, though they are expecting to change the bike route for next year. Couer D'Alene might not be up your alley because the water is usually freezing and the bike is hilly - which might not suit your warmer weather training.

That said, with training, and confidence you can pretty much get through whichever race you choose



He said the swim was weak for him. That's why I was suggesting swims that seem to have a calmer starts or even calmer body of water - but really, with this much time you're right there's plenty of time to get acclimated. But if it might be something of concern for the OP still.

To the OP: generally registration opens the day after the race around noon - but if you keep up with these boards - and follow the websites you'll know when registration time is!
2013-05-22 9:23 AM
in reply to: davidfedez

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?

Originally posted by davidfedez WOW! I didn't realize I have to sign up with that much time in advance. Good that I already started to look at it... After reading all your answers I did some research and I think I would like to do an Ironman Brand race. It is going to be my first one and I think I would like to have that experience. However, as you said, the races sell out fast! I looked at the races that they host and these will work for me: 1. IMFL or IMAZ: Both are late in the year, which is when I think I will be in my top shape. Obviously, IMFL will be my first choice due to easier logistics and because I may be more used to the weather and terrain. 2. IMTX or IM Lake Placid: IMTX may be a little bit too early in the season and I heard this year was really tough, so I will lean more towards Lake Placid. I can redesign my training plan and be in top shape by late July too rather than late in the year. How fast do these races fill up? I read IMFL sold out in less than one minute last year!! This one is my top choice, so is there any mailing list that I can join to make sure I know when registration opens? I can't make it this year as a volunteer as some of you suggested, since the week after I am doing my first HIM and I would like to prepare for it rather than taking a "long" road trip. Thank you very much for all your responses. They have been very helpful to start narrowing it down a little bit.

All of those races sell out fairly fast -- but Florida and Lake Placid can be particularly fast.  So if you're not volunteering, make sure you're online and ready to sign up on the day and time that it opens.  If you don't get in, you can pay double for one of their Ironman foundation slots.  Which might still work out to be cheaper than a long road trip for volunteering, depending on where you are.

Also if you look outside the U.S. -- both Canadian IM races are in August and Cozumel is in December.  Not sure if those appeal to you.
2013-05-22 9:33 AM
in reply to: spudone

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
If you want to do IMFL, I would HIGHLY recommend you go up there this year (it's in early November) and volunteer, then get up at the butt crack o' stupid the next morning (like 4am) and go stand in line to register in person. If it's anything like IMAZ was, most of the slots will be filled by people who volunteered and waited hours in line the morning after the race, which is why online registration sold out so quickly.

An alternative is to do Beach 2 Battleship, which is in Wilmington, NC. I did it as my first 140.6 in 2009 and the wife is doing it this year. It's a wonderful race, very well organized and is smaller (read: less crowded on the swim) than an M-Dot race. That said, I have to give credit to WTC (the organizer of the Ironman branded races) -- they do put on a good show!!!

Good luck.
2013-05-22 12:05 PM
in reply to: mr2tony

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
I never thought it will be that hard to register for an IM! Are there that many crazy people out there??

I looked for volunteer positions for IMFL 2013 and unless I want to go on Wednesday (I can't miss that many days at work), the only positions available required to be a licensed nurse/doctor or a massage therapist. I am not neither of those, so I will have to try to register online, which I am starting to think that it will be almost impossible...
2013-05-22 2:40 PM
in reply to: davidfedez

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
Originally posted by davidfedez

I never thought it will be that hard to register for an IM! Are there that many crazy people out there??

I looked for volunteer positions for IMFL 2013 and unless I want to go on Wednesday (I can't miss that many days at work), the only positions available required to be a licensed nurse/doctor or a massage therapist. I am not neither of those, so I will have to try to register online, which I am starting to think that it will be almost impossible...


IMTX is a hot and humid race. What kills most people is that they haven't trained in that kind of weather before race day. I live in Texas and there wasn't a hot day before race day to train in! IMTX is always going to be a beat down because of the heat and humidity. If it is warmer in Florida Jan-May you might actually be able to train in that kind of weather.

One of my clients registered for IMFL online and got in. BUT I was shocked! And we had "plan B" in place in case she didn't get in. The downside is that it is so late in the year, if you don't get in, you might not get to do an IM... with Arizona filling up just as quickly as Florida does.

IM Cozumel, IM Kentucky, and IM Texas never sell out fast. IMCOZ is later in the year, have you considered doing that one? It is hot, windy, and flat. Kind of like Florida, right? And the swim is easy. Nice, wide ocean with very few waves (it is the side of the island that doesn't get slammed by wind, thus very few waves). IM Kentucky has an easy swim due to it being a time trial start and mostly with the river current. IMTX is an easy swim if you stick to the outside, near the river banks. Otherwise, it isn't that big of a lake.




2013-05-22 2:58 PM
in reply to: davidfedez

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
Take into account that Lake Placid is hilly.
On the plus side, since Tremblant started, it's no longer crazy that it closes within minutes.

Since you don't mind heat, what about Louisville? Even this year's race is still open.

Also check out Ironman.com...they have all the races and you can just assume the registration opens the day after the previous year's race. And you'll get news in case the one in Asheville, NC ever happens.
2013-05-22 3:21 PM
in reply to: runnerx

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Subject: RE: What Ironman should I sign up for?
If you don't get into IM Florida, why not do B2B? It's probably better than IMFL for a first-timer as it's way less crowded on the swim.

I've done B2B and an M-Dot race (IMAZ) and there wasn't a whole lot of difference between the two. IMAZ had more spectators, not by much, but the number of miles was the same, as was the number of aid stations, volunteers, etc etc etc. Honestly it's an amazing race, B2B.
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