Ironman Triathlon: the ultimate Lake Placid activity
It is arguably the most grueling athletic endeavor known to man.
An Ironman triathlon, at the full distance, gives one pause to consider: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles on a bike and a full 26 mile marathon. The latter two segments will force the 2,800 Lake Placid competitors to navigate up, down and around the severe topography that can be found in the Adirondack Mountains.
This is what awaits Sunday’s (July 28) professional and amateur entrants in the 14th running of Ironman Lake Placid.
It begins at 6:30 Sunday morning at the Lake Placid Municipal Beach, with swimmers stroking two clock-wise laps in Mirror Lake, each leg measuring 1.2 miles. Several thousand spectators will extoll the athletes at that hour, supporting friends, family members and complete strangers, providing good karma for those who have entered the competition.
Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa guests, however, will have an unencumbered view of the swimming portion from the hotel property. Those staying in the Lake Cottage and the Colonial House need only to look out their windows to see the action. Visitors lodged in Mirror Lake Inn’s main building can simply walk across the street and, if they choose, take a chair in the private beach and enjoy the race.
Once the competitors leave the water, they will transition to the Olympic Speed Skating Oval/Lake Placid High School on Main Street. In that process, off come the wet suits and, voila, just add biking shoes and they are attired for a long ride that commences from the back of the high school.
The bike leg begins innocuously with a cruise down Colden Avenue in the village and the cheering of spectators lining the street. Then it’s onto Route 73 where they will admire the Olympic Ski Jumps and pedal uphill beyond the Craig Wood Golf Course. This sets up a hellacious downhill blast to the town of Keene, 14 miles below Lake Placid. Speeds approaching 60 miles an hour are reached as the athletes now begin to separate themselves from the pack.
At the end of this gravity-induced rush comes a hairpin left turn onto Springfield Road that forces the bikers to lose all their momentum before starting a lengthy climb to Upper Jay, Jay and Wilmington. At this point, Route 86 brings them past the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center back to Lake Placid.
That’s the mid-point of the biking segment. Now it’s time to repeat the loop to reach 112 miles. And, of course, the competitors nourish themselves in the process, taking in food and drink.
With biking now concluded, it’s time for the marathon, also departing from the Olympic Oval. It initially retraces the early bike stage. However, at the ski jumps, runners cross a small bridge and turn left onto Riverside Drive, following this windy two-lane road to its turn-around point.
They will run back into Lake Placid, turn right on Mirror Lake Drive to another turn-around position, then stride back to Main Street before going back out for the second run loop.
Upon conclusion, which comes with a midnight deadline, the athletes enter the oval, site of Eric Heiden’s five Olympic gold medals. It is there that PA announcer Mike Rielly welcomes every athlete to the finish line with the pronouncement, “You are an Ironman.”
The winning time for the professionals will be in the seven to eight hour range, while a number of amateurs, who race for personal achievement, will finish just before the clock strikes midnight.
And when it’s over, they will try to get a night’s sleep and then stand in line the next day to register for the 2014 race.
For live race coverage and complete results, please log on to www.ironman.com.
Top photo: The race starts at Mirror Lake Beach (Courtesy of Lake Placid CVB)
Middle photo: Biking downhill alongside the Cascade Lakes on Route 73 (Courtesy Larry Rosa/EnduraPix.com)
Bottom photo: Yes!! You are finished!! You are an Ironman!! (Courtesy Larry Rosa/EnduraPix.com)