It’s the home stretch before the highly anticipated Ironman Alaska becomes a reality through Juneau with thousands of riders from around the world coming to see if they have what it takes to be dubbed Ironman.
For athletes like Jeff Rogers, CFO of the City and Borough of Juneau — who traveled Thursday afternoon to pick up his gear at Thunder Mountain High School’s Ironman Village — reality sets in and the excitement rises.
“I’m very excited for the atmosphere and the community, it’s fun to live here and to be able to do it with the other 1,000 people who have come here to do it with us,” he said.
He said of course there were concerns about the weather and equipment malfunctions, but he said at the end of the day “just let these things go and do it, and I’m totally excited.”
Juneau’s first year hosting Ironman Alaska is set to take place from the early hours of Sunday morning until midnight Monday, and the thousands of spectators and runners are already heading to town to participate in the events and watch the colossal challenge.
But, with the excitement of race day, people can expect traffic delays and increased activity near the race as people try to participate or watch the race as described by Colleen McDonald, Ironman Alaska’s Race Director, in a public statement.
Sunday’s competition will begin with a 6 a.m. age group swim start in the cold waters of Lake Auke where athletes will complete the 2.4-mile leg before exiting the waters at the University of Southeast Alaska.
From there, riders will hop on their respective bikes and hit the road and back to complete the 112-mile bike leg.
And as a lap of honor to conclude the competition, the runners will cover 26.2 miles on foot and cross the finish line at UAS.
There is a wide range of fitness levels among race athletes, which means athletes need to finish throughout the day and well into the night. Officials said the first runners are expected to cross the finish line at UAS around 1:30-2pm and the last runners are expected around midnight – the 5pm cut-off time for the race.
Due to the long length of time athletes will be competing for each stage, the official said runners will be spread out across Juneau and people should expect delays/road closures for subsequent ones.
— Mendenhall/Back Loop Road from Auke Lake Way to Auke Bay Roundabout, closed 6am-9.30am
— Mendenhall/Back Loop Road, from Auke Lake Way to Auke Bay Roundabout, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
— Glacier Highway from the roundabout north of Echo Cove, 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
— Ferry Terminal on Glacier Highway, 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
— Mendenhall/Back Loop Road, Auke Lake Way to Montana Creek Road, 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
— Montana Creek Road, from Mendenhall Loop Road to the trailhead (including the skaters hut), 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
— River Road from Mendenhall Loop Road to Kaxdigoowi Heen Dei, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
— Kaxdigoowi Heen Dei, 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
— Glacier Highway from Wildmeadow Lane to the Lake Auke boat launch, 11:30 a.m. to midnight (Monday)
– No access to the Lake Auke boat ramp on Saturday August 6 and Sunday August 7
McDonald said in a letter to residents that she thanked Juneau for her hospitality during Ironman Alaska’s stay in the city, and said she was asking for residents’ cooperation and understanding on race day as people travel through the city. And, while some people are preparing for the eye-roll of traffic control, others are preparing.
Genna Boragine, an Ironman Alaska participant who traveled from San Diego with three other riders and volunteers, said of all the Ironman races the group of friends have competed in across the country, Juneau is “the biggest community of support we have ever known”.
Boragine was at the Ironman Village to pick up their gear bags, which were filled with race day essentials, Alaskan goodies and racing loot. Boragine said it was touching to come into a community that is “super accommodating everywhere” and described the atmosphere in Juneau as “literally the best community.”
• Contact journalist Clarise Larson at [email protected] or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.