What Is the Bike Course Like?
The Ironman Louisville bike course is "fair," in that you're not struggling to survive against a wicked hilly course stacked with long climbs, longer descents, mind-numbing flats or other variables.
It's just...a bike ride with some flats, some hills (but nothing crazy) and some downhills (but nothing scary). It has a little bit of everything: flat along the river, rolling hills in the horse country, tons of spectators through LaGrange, flat to generally downhill and fast back to transition.
You start flat along the river to either a short climb into Prospect or mostly flat through Prospect. Once through Prospect the course is rolling to the start of the out-and-back. In the center of the out-and-back is a creek surrounded by low ground, so it's generally downhill, across the creek, uphill, flat, flip it and return.
The bridge across the creek is at the very bottom of the hill, so you'll have a good bit of speed as you approach it. And, of course, the bridge has a rough seam on the right side that is known to launch bottles and other gear. Hit the bridge towards the center and you'll be fine.
Once you've completed the out and back, you turn right and carry on to the start of a counterclockwise loop that you do twice. The loop has a little bit of everything, but nothing too crazy or anything to be overly concerned about...just pace yourself up the hills and look to go fast on the downhills.
At the end of the second loop you continue straight, generally downhill and flat back to Louisville without doing the out-and-back (you only do it once, on your way out to the loop). If you have executed well, you'll have plenty of energy left to keep the speed up and put some serious time on on the competition over these final 40 miles!
That's it, pretty straight forward. If you are looking for some extra credit information, please read our Climbing Smart on Race Day article.
What Is the Run Like?
The run course is more or less a dead flat out-and-back, with just enough slight turns that you don't see miles and miles into the distance. The only "hills" are a climb just past the top of a bridge over the Ohio River and almost into Indiana, before flipping it and coming back (you only do this Ohio bridge thing once, at the start of the first lap).
There is also a short rise after a dive under an overhead train bridge.
As you head back towards the end of the first lap, you'll make a quick jog left, then right, running maddeningly close to the finishing chute before flipping a u-turn and heading back out for lap two.
What Can My Family Do on Race Day?
If they want to see you on the bike, the town of La Grange puts on a neat family festival they can attend while they wait for you to come through town twice on the loop. If they want to stay in Louisville while you ride, downtown Louisville—and especially Fourth Street Live—offers a range of activities.
In fact, if you look at the course maps, you'll see that a good portion of the area along the river between the finish and transition area is grass, featuring a large park, a playground and other options for staying busy. Just make sure the family is prepared for a long day in the heat (see below).
I've Heard the Finish Line Is Very Unique...
Yep! Picture your typical urban downtown with high rises on either side of the street. Now put a glass ceiling, about three stories up, over about two to three blocks of the main street. Fill this covered area with bars and restaurants and include an overhead crosswalk to a food court, and now put the finish of an Ironman right there in the middle of it all! Very cool, very unique...and very loud.