John is to humble to brag in his race report about his result... So I - Carla - will to that for him. John came off an Overall third place, Age group win at Fireweed 100 in Alaska. A notoriously, cold and rainy long distance bike race in Alaska. He said - if I quote him correctly - that his body was a combustion oven - so he kept warm, while his wife and trusty race sherpa Anna posted miserably looking pictures of pouring rain and fog on Facebook. A short two weeks later he showed up in Lake Placid for his third Ironman to date and confirmed that he is in great shape busting out new personal records left and right, besting his overall, bike and run time in compare to the considerably easier Ironman Louisville. Here is Mr. Alaska's analysis of the town and the course...
Ironman Lake Placid Report
Lake Placid is a small resort town in the Adirondack Mountains in north New York State. It is a very beautiful area. It is also the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics and the famous “Miracle on Ice” hockey victory of the Russians. The Ironman Village and transition zone is in the outdoor 400-meter speed skating rink. While IM LP is known as one of the tougher ones on the circuit, it is well worth a visit.
The swim is two loops around a narrow rectangle in Mirror Lake. It is a small lake with no motor boats. You swim clockwise. The water is pretty clear and the lake is calm (placid). There is a rope that is about 6 feet deep that ties all the buoys together. So a swimmer can swim along the rope and have very little need for sighting. However, most people know this and therefore want to swim the rope. It makes for an easy practice swim by yourself. But during the race, it is a combat swimming mess, since everyone want to swim that line. I considered it a puzzle. I swam in the combat zone for a while and also tried 15 to 20 feet to the side of it. In the end, my recommendation is to swim about 20 feet to the side for the first lap. You can site easily with your right side breath. You just need to verify that you are still just to the side of the hoard. By the second lap, the swimmer had spread out a bit and that is a good opportunity to swim the rope. The pros started at 6:30 am. They swam the rope for the first lap and then were allowed to swim the inside of the buoys for the second lap to avoid the age group hoard. The age groupers lined up on the beach by expected time for a rolling start. We started at 6:40 am.
It was a long run to T1, about 2-3 blocks. They had rolled out a carpet to run on. The bike and run gear bags are hung on a rack, not the ground. We where told that is because the transition is at a skating rink, which is designed to hold in water, not let it drain. So if there is rain overnight, there will be water on the ground. We had a perfect day for racing. You grab your bag, change in the tent, and run to the bike racks. If you are lucky, a volunteer has your bike in the aisle, if not you get it yourself (I was not lucky). And then you are off on a very scenic route.
The bike course entails about 6,000 feet of elevation climbing. The lanes you ride in are closed to traffic and the pavement is good to excellent throughout. There are fuel stations every 10 miles or so. The course is mostly a loop with two out-and-backs and you ride two loops. I thought the course was ideal, given the climbing. There is a series of steep descents in a row. After that, you spend the next dozens of miles climbing back up. But much of it is at low grades, some with rollers. There are a couple of decent ascents, but not bad. There is one really fun and steep ascent that is not long. It is fun because it is close to town and it is lined with fans. You can really imagine yourself in a Tour de France like scene.
Several steep descents in a row. One guy told me he hit 52 mph. I used the brakes :D
The scenery on the bike is awesome. Here are a few pictures:
Whiteface Mountain Ski Area
You go through several tiny towns that really come out to cheer!
The run is a long out-and-back then a short out-and-back. Then repeat. The long one goes through town and then out into the country. It has two significant hills on the “back.” But most of the run is fairly flat. The short one is along Mirror Lake, where the swim occurred. Much of the run is beautiful and peaceful. There are fueling stations every mile or so.
And then you turn the corner and WHAM, Olympic ski jumps!
The finish is pretty cool. They remove the Ironman Village that were around one end of the Olympic speed skating rink and replace it with the finishing lane. Fans line both sides of the lane and there is even a grandstands at the finish.
The town is welcoming and the fans are enthusiastic.
Here the race day video - always makes me smile... Carla