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Blistering heat is expected on race day, but Ironman triathlon is still happening in Coeur d’Alene

June 25, 2021 Updated Fri., June 25, 2021 at 12:30 p.m.

By Sydney Brown The Spokesman-Review

Runners will face what’s expected to be one of the hottest Ironman race days with temperatures forecast to exceed 100 degrees Sunday in Coeur d’Alene.

As much of Washington and Idaho face excessive heat warnings and droughts, the Ironman triathlon will include a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, then racers will finish around midnight with a 26.2-mile marathon.

Cynthia Rozyla, president of the North Idaho Sports Commission, said the commission needs many more volunteers for both crowd control and help with the 3,000 athletes who signed up for the race.

“We’re preparing for the heat and also helping the athletes prepare in any way they can,” she said.

Dave Christen, Ironman regional director, said the organization added misting stations, ice, water and towels to prepare for thousands of athletes and their audience. About 10,000 people are expected to show up to watch, with about 1,700 volunteers.

But Christen said the city has seen hot race days before.

“This is something we’re ready for,” he said.

Triathlon coach Diego Olivieri, a board member on the sports commission, said he has finished three full Ironman races and many half-marathons, but never experienced it in this heat.

Athletes during the race will need to constantly drink water and consume higher amounts of electrolytes, Olivieri said.

Those in the crowd should also make sure they drink and eat enough throughout the day, wear sunscreen and find shady areas to watch the race, Olivieri said.

“It’s easy to go two or three hours without drinking or eating anything, but be cognizant about drinking water,” Olivieri said.

An early sign of dehydration includes cracked lips and dark-colored urine, Olivieri said.

“Well, we’ve had a real hot Ironman before,” Rozyla said. “And the Ironman staff are really right on top this. I think it’s going to be OK.”

With the number of people expected to show up, Rozlya said she hopes this will spur more volunteers and community donations for the North Idaho Sports Commission.

“It really is so great for the community here,” Rozyla said.

Christen said Coeur d’Alene remains one of the most popular venues for Ironman.

Organizers made some tweaks to accommodate those worried about COVID-19, Christen said. This meant expanding the geographic area for the race and creating opportunities for social distancing around the finish lines.

“We’re doing all we can to give everyone the distance they want,” Christen said.

Coeur d’Alene has not seen a full Ironman triathlon in several years, Rozyla said.

The North Idaho Sports Commission worked with a group of residents who wanted to bring back the full triathlon, Rozyla said.

The sports commission established a “Save the Ironman” committee and soon entered into a contract with Ironman that designated every third year for the grueling athletic event, Rozyla said.

That this year’s Ironman will happen during record-breaking heat will not deter competitors, Christen said.

Ironman will also include the 2021 Ironkids Fun Run, which will start 9 a.m. Saturday at McEuen Park. As of Thursday afternoon, 353 kids had signed up for Ironkids, Rozyla said.

Ironman 2021 will start at 5 a.m. Sunday near Lake Coeur d’Alene in Coeur d’Alene City Park. While registration for athletes is closed, the event is free and open to the public.

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