10 Ways to Succeed at Ironman Wisconsin

What Is the Run Like?

The Wisconsin run course consists of two winding, urban, mostly-flat laps, and not nearly as challenging as the bike course. There are two mildly-significant hills on the course:

  1. Observatory Drive, at about miles 8 and 18. A couple of rollers, then a short, steep, switchback downhill that rolls into State Street.
  2. State Street, at the end of each lap. Actually, you need to climb up to the Capitol before heading to the end of each lap and, depending on how you're feeling, that climb can feel like it starts on State Street...or much sooner! Either way, State Street is packed with spectators to cheer you on.

The rest of the run course has a little of everything: turns, roads through the University of Wisconsin campus (and even a lap of the Camp Randall football field!), a shaded, dirt walking path next to the lake, hundreds of spectators on State Street and more. In fact, there will likely be only about 400 yards on each lap where you will not be cheered on.

What Can My Family Do on Race Day?

If they want to see you on the bike, the town of Verona puts on a neat family festival they can attend while they wait for you to come through town twice. The race should offer shuttles to Verona. Another option is to take one of many county roads to the hilliest hills on the course (Old Sauk, Timberlane, Midtown) and contribute to the Tour de France-like vibe on the climbs.

If they want to stay in Madison while you ride, downtown—and especially State Street—offers a range of activities. In fact, if you look at the run map, you'll see that your family can station themselves near the ends of State Street and only walk a couple blocks to catch you coming and going many times.

What's the Biggest Mistake I Could Make?

Without a doubt it's overcooking the bike, especially on the hills. You really, really need to be thinking out there 100 percent of the time. We highly recommend that you commit yourself to Just Riding Along (JRA) for the first 90 to 120 minutes, ignoring the others around you. Coach Rich rode a 5:12 and qualified for Kona in 2002 doing just this: a 72-mile bike ride after a 40-mile warm-up.

What is the Temperature Like on Race Day?

Temps for IMWI have historically been highly variable. In 2005, it was 95. In 2006, it was 55 and raining. Best to be prepared nutritionally for a hot day and gear-wise for a cold one—you just don't know. Remember, at the end of the day, everyone else has to race under the same conditions!

What's Your Top Swim Tip?

Only go as fast as your ability to maintain good form. If your form begins to go because you are tired or working too hard, just slow down. It's a long day, so don't sweat two to three minutes on the swim.

What's Your Top Bike Tip?

You're basically warming up until about mile 40 of the bike. Don't worry, the hammerheads will come back to you or you'll see them on the run. The bike course is very unforgiving and they will pay, don't worry.

What's Your Top Run Tip?

Run very easy for the first 6 miles, then settle into your pace, preparing for the real race that starts at mile 18. At mile 18, put your head down and get it done. Count the number of people you're passing and keep your head in the game. You can do anything for 8 miles!

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