Ironman Maryland in Cambridget, MD
Race Type: Triathlon
Distance: 140.6 (Ironman)
Entry Fee: $675
The town of Cambridge saved the race this year. When Hurricane Joaquin cancelled the race (originally scheduled for Oct 3, 2015) the town council approached Ironman and asked that the race be rescheduled. They cut all the red tape for reissuing permits, provided volunteers, and pulled off a great event 2 weeks later on October 17. As far as I know, there has never been a cancelled race that was rescheduled. About 3/4 of the athletes showed up on Oct 17. The town really embraces the event and the support showed it.
The only knock on this race is finding a place to stay. There are only 2 or three hotels in town. The main one is the Hyatt which fills up nearly 1 year out. All other remaining hotels within 10-15 miles also filled up really early. I had plans to stay 40 minutes away (the closest I could find) before I was saved by an acquaintance at works who happened to own a condo 10 minutes by foot away from the finish line. The biggest challenge other than the training and race itself is finding a place to stay. In talking to others at the race several found AirBNB rentals with families along the run course in town. I would look there and through VRBO to get options. There just are not enough hotel rooms close by to support this race. I used TriBike transport for the race. I highly recommend their services. No issues with drop off or pick up. My lovely wife and sherpa for the day walked my bike over to their tent for me after the bike leg so we didn’t have to worry about it after the race.
Swim course- The swim is in a tidal river that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. It it partially protected by a point jutting out into the river which is also where the race starts. On my race day, the wind was gusting 25-30 miles an hour and the water was really choppy; so much so that a small craft advisory was put in place. Due to these factors, the race start was delayed 45 minutes. They ended up shortening the course by about 500M to keep the course in the more sheltered part of the river. It was a rolling, self seeded, start. This means that you line up by expected time and when the gun goes off you shuffle with the crowd to the water until you cross the timing line then get in the water an go. It was 2 laps. The water was choppy but not as bad as expected. There were a lot of kayaks for support and traffic direction. Sighting was a little tricky with the choppy water and partly due to the course changes at the last minute, but there were landmarks above the river to use. Water temps were below 62 degrees so booties were permitted. I used them and would do it again. I hate being cold.
Bike Course- The bike course winds through town for about 10 miles then gets to the BlackWater nature preserve. The Blackwater preserve is a large approximately 45 mile loop that you do twice. The course is flat, flat, flat. Being that the course is a large circular loop, wind is a factor almost the entire ride. The day of my race, the wind had calmed a little by the time we were out of the bike course, but you still felt the wind hitting you mostly from the sides most of the ride. There were a few times I felt the push from the side and had to get out of aero to maintain control. On the plus side, the scenery was great and despite the course being on an open road, there were only 3 or 4 cars that passed us during the two loops at Blackwater. The aid stations were well stocked and well manned for the whole ride. The volunteers at the High school were excellent with the special needs bags. Porta potties were well placed and available. The Ironman referee on the motorcycle was handing out cards left and right for drafting. There were a lot of bikes out on the road at the same time and many formed into loose pace lines. Apparently they were not keeping the spacing required. I saw her come around 3 times while I was out there and she handed a card to someone in front of me each time. Given this race is in October, be prepared to layer up for the bike. Coming out of the river then onto a bike can be really cold. I had a beanie under my helmet, a neck gator, full finger gloves, and a wind vest. It was just about right for the day. At mile 60 I took off the full finger gloves and replaced the beanie with a cycling cap underneath the helmet.
Run Course- The run course is a 2 and 1/2 loop through town. The far end of the loop gets out of town and away from the neighborhoods but only for a couple of miles. The aid stations were placed about every 2 miles and well stocked all day/night. Gatorade, water, fruit, chips, pretzels, chews, chicken broth, etc. at each one. The run course is also flat. The section through the main part of town is packed with spectators into the night and is a lot of fun. Many had signs and were wearing costumes. You pass by the finishing chute twice before you finally get to veer right instead of left to finish. It is exciting to hear them calling our finishers especially on the 2nd loop. I started taking hte chicken broth after dark. It was good to have something warm and salty. The course swings by a restaurant area right toward the end and that was full of cheering peeps all night long. I got to see my family on the loops and then again in the finishing chute.
Cool and windy all day long. We had sun for most of the day, but the temps were in the 50’s and the wind made it seem colder. I’m told that the weather was rather typical of that time of year. maybe a little more windy than it would normally be.
Was the weather normal? Yes
MISC HELPFUL INFO
Link to Garmin/Polar/Etc. Course File:
ABOUT THE SWAG
SWAG Rating: 3
About the SWAG:
I really liked the backpack but the freebies in the bag they had you were minimal and included dog food?! I guess if I had a dog with me that would be cool.
Spectator Friendliness Rating: 3
Run was really spectator friendly. Bike course not so much. My family went to a playground, out to lunch, and hung out at the place we were staying until they came out to see me on the run course. There was not a whole lot close by to do during the day, but they seemed to be fine with it.
Submitted by: Sam Mendenhall