I will be watching my daughter Sara compete in her fourth IM race this July in Lake Placid, NY. As a seasoned Ironman spectator (IMLP 2008, IM MOO 2009, and IM Canada 2011), and as a principal cheering team member I’d like to share some tips I have learned:
- Be ready for ANY TYPE of WEATHER, regardless of what tourist information says is average for the host city!
- Read the Ironman Athlete’s Guide – posted on the race website.
- Find the “Getting Around on Race Day” information. Each sponsoring community usually publishes a little newspaper with details
- Plan ahead and pick viewing spots based on maps and your participant’s expectations of the course.
about traffic, parking, and more.
- You want to see your racer – and they want to hear and see you! [Yes, that is usually my mom with the cowbell and school bell]
- See if the host city encourages signs along the route. In Madison, they encouraged spectators to write chalk messages along specific streets. [you might be able to make signs the day or two before the race in the athlete village]
- Pick the spot where you will meet your “finisher” after the race.
- Have a copy of all of your racer’s important information.
- Study the host city and scout where you will be parking your car, eating, resting, and sight -seeing or just hanging out while your athlete is on the course. Madison had a great Farmers Market, and so did Penticton. Lake Placid has a vibrant Main Street with lots of shops and restaurants as well as Olympic village museums and sites to see. Who expects ice on the street in front of the Olympic Ice Hockey rink?
- Why the above is important – Spectators may be spending the same 12 – 14 hour day outside and on your feet. You won’t have stations along the way for hydration or snacks, so be prepared and bring some water, sun screen, snacks – or know where you can go to get food, water, snacks or cool off. Remember the race is on Sunday, so check what is usually open and when things usually close. Some merchants extend their hours during the IM race or as in Penticton encouraged us to stay and simply stayed open longer. Sometimes costs are high.
- Be ready to do a lot of walking. If our support team can, we try to stay within walking distance of the start and finish lines.
- Be sure that your cameras, Smart phones, battery chargers (yes bring more than one) are working.
- Ability to text really improved our participation and communication with others, and with those supporters who could not get to the IM race location.