After pouring a lot of time and energy into helping readers qualify the best race for themselves and their family, we ran a small survey on IRONMAN North America races for additional input. Based on the results, we found a few races varied based on athlete, his or her respective families, and event preferences.
The top race among competitors, from first time to experienced, is Lake Placid, NY, which was ranked Highest Overall, voted Best Swim and Bike Courses, and had the best race volunteers. Our review suggests the same, given Mirror Lake’s crystal clear visibility to the bottom, and the views from the bike course. It may also be safe to assume that since the majority of our results came from parents—81%—the family-friendly environment offered by Lake Placid’s atmosphere might have a lot to do with its ranking.
Lake Placid also tied the Tempe, AZ Ironman for Best Spectator Viewing, which suggests its backdrop is really as breathtaking as they say. The Tempe course has a number of hotspots for watching, including the Mill Avenue Bridge, overlooking the swim course, the “hot corner” for optimal bike energy, and the non-stop action through the run course.
Madison, WI was voted Best Run Course, likely because it takes place entirely in town, resulting in a high-intensity, adrenaline-filled leg of the race. And Louisville, KY was one of the top re-visited races, alongside Lake Placid, and Tempe meaning athletes enjoyed the locale so much the first time they just had to do a round two.
We found that of the 81% parent participants, 50% were traveling with two children. This tells us that the top voted races could handle those competitors and their families; so try not to feel overwhelmed at the thought of lodging and entertainment.
We’re also excited to see the varying experience levels of respondents. 30% had competed once, 19% twice, 12% three times, and 13% have competed in five or more races. These results tell us that we’ve got a fairly equal majority of first-timers and veterans, which means the top voted races are based on a uniform preference for race environment and atmosphere.
It’s also important to remember that the Kona, HI event is a qualifying race, so it might not be represented properly in our results.
Of course, any race you choose should be based on your individual needs, whether it’s accommodations, entertainment, scenery, or the actual course itself. We believe each race has its own persona, and the value of its locale is exactly what you’re hoping to get out of a race. Best of luck to each and every athlete training to hear the words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”