Thousands are expected to compete in the Ironman 70.3 race in Coeur d’Alene on Sunday.
The 70.3-mile triathlon entails a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
But next year, athletes will face twice the challenge after the Coeur d’Alene City Council this week approved a full-distance Ironman race for 2023.
“We are so thrilled to see such an appetite for full-distance triathlon racing in Coeur d’Alene,” said Tim Brosious, Northwest Regional Director for The Ironman Group.
Historically, Coeur d’Alene has hosted the full 140.6-mile race since Ironman first came here in 2003. The group switched to the 70.3-mile version in 2018 and in 2019, while the 2020 race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s race was another full version.
The nonprofit North Idaho Sports Commission worked to bring the full version back.
“After talking to our Ironman team and athletes over the past year, it has been clear that there is a strong desire for another full-distance race here,” said Britt Bachtel-Browning, president of the commission. “The past few years of the pandemic has produced a huge pent-up demand to race, and Coeur d’Alene just hits it out of the park in terms of where people want to race and bring their families to visit.”
The City Council approved an amendment to a previous agreement with World Triathlon Corp. and North Idaho Sports Commission to change the 2023 event from a 70.3-mile race to a 140.6-mile race.
The full Ironman will be on June 26, 2023. General registration will open on July 4. It will follow the same course as this weekend’s race but with extra laps.
In the meantime, Brosious expects between 2,200 and 2,500 people to race the half-distance event this Sunday.
Rolling starts by age group begin at 6 a.m. Sunday, with athletes jumping into Lake Coeur d’Alene and swimming out and back along the 1.2-mile course marked by buoys. Then they will bike along Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive and U.S. Highway 95, before running two loops on the run course through downtown and crossing the finish line on Sherman Avenue.
“This course in particular has been a highlight,” Brosious said, “not only in the North American circuit of Ironman events, but globally. It is one of the highest-ranked courses by our athletes.”
That ranking is based on both the beautiful North Idaho aesthetics and for being spectator-friendly (The event is free for spectators). “We welcome anybody and everybody to show up to watch the event, hang out and cheer on the athletes,” he said.
An awards ceremony will be held at the park’s stage at 3 p.m.
Last-minute athletes with the fitness level to compete in a half-triathlon can still register on-site in Ironman Village in Coeur d’Alene City Park on Friday. The village will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
New this year, the North Idaho Sports Commission will host a “community festival” next to Ironman Village in City Park for smaller businesses to participate. It will include craft vendors, live music, food trucks and a beer garden.
The IronKids Fun Run, for ages 1-17, will be in McEuen Park on Saturday morning at 9 a.m., with registration beginning at 7 a.m.
Brosious said to expect traffic delays if heading toward the event or traveling through town on Sunday. Parts of many downtown streets making up the bike and run courses will be closed for part or most of the day.
Expect delays on U.S. Highway 95, which will be partially restricted with lane closures and flaggers controlling intersections along the course from Missile Base Road to Northwest Boulevard. The highway have speeds reduced to 45 mph.
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