5 Ironman Spectator Tips for the Big Day

? Photography by Elizabeth Zamora

Today I embark on a 12+ hour drive to Tennessee for the Ironman ChattanoogaThis will be my boyfriend’s fourth full Ironman and my second to spectate. Last year we traveled to Whistler for the Ironman Canada and it was such an amazing experience, so I want to share my top 5 tips for spectating an Ironman.

1. CREATE A PLAN. A few weeks or days before the big event, get a map and plan where you want to watch your Ironman, so you know where you are going. This includes knowing what time the swim begins and estimating the times when you can catch your Ironman on their bike and run. For those of you attending the Ironman Chattanooga, you can read the Spectator Guide, which includes useful information. I also recommend watching the weather reports since the weather can determine how you will spend the day spectating and what you will wear.

2. DRESS COMFORTABLE AND PACK ESSENTIALS. When you spectate, you will most likely be on your feet and outside, so dress comfortably. This means wearing sneakers, workout leggings or jeans, a short or long sleeve shirt (depending on the weather), a sweater or jacket, and a hat to block the sun. Additionally, pack sunscreen, a portable phone charger, snacks, and water.

3. BE SELFLESS. The Ironman race day is all about the Ironman competing, so make it about them. Know what they want to eat, how much rest they need, and where they need to be in order to pick up their bib or check-in their bike. The days before an Ironman are so important and the last thing you want to do is to add any extra stress to your Ironman’s mind. Something I like to keep in mind is their post-race meal. Ask what they want to eat and have it ready for them at the hotel in the evening. Trust me, they will be hungry!

4. SCOPE OUT THE COURSE. Many times your Ironman will be participating in a new course, so it is important to arrive a few days before race day to scope out the course. This includes taking a trip to the lake, so your Ironman can test out the waters, and knowing where the transition points are located. Knowing there these spots are can help in finding your Ironman on race day.

5. HAVE PATIENCE, FUN AND BE SUPPORTIVE. Spectating is a day-long event that can last anywhere from 10 to 14 hours, if not more, so have patience when you make your way around the course. Your Ironman has spent months training for this big event and being supportive, as well as, cheering for them along the way can help re-energize them. Lastly, have fun along the way and do not forget to catch your Ironman at the finish line to congratulate them on their accomplishment. 

Being prepared and having fun on Ironman race day will ensure you are set for a great time. Here are some pictures from last years race day.

Have you participated or spectated an Ironman? Share your tips in the comments section below!


Ironman Canada in WhistlerIronman Canada in WhistlerIronman Canada in WhistlerIronman Canada in WhistlerIronman Canada in Whistler


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6 Comment

  1. Reply
    Mary Lou Taylor
    September 22, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Definitely download the spectator guide, and print 2-3 maps of every course. Find out if there are shuttles to any point locations, and take them. it helps. We had a group of about 10 for my daughters 1st Ironman on 9/11/2016 in Madison, everyone split up in 3 groups and kept in contact with each other of her where abouts. I made t-shirts, and face signs, they were so easy to see in the crowds.
    Hydrate often, you are doing more than 5000 steps too, we calculated ours on our fitbit. I kind of knew my daughter’s time from 2
    1/2 Ironmans, and she was right on schedule. She did awesome at 14:40

    1. Reply
      September 24, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      These are great tips, Mary Lou! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Reply
    Robert Stukowskki
    September 23, 2016 at 2:55 am

    These are great tips for any road sport.

    1. Reply
      September 24, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      Thank you, Robert!

  3. Reply
    Amanda | Glitter & Spice
    October 6, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I am so impressed by anybody who can do an Ironman. Like… I can’t even run a mile. These are such great tips!
    XO Amanda |

    1. Reply
      March 16, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! Ironmen and Ironwomen are AMAZING.

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