Ironman Boulder is less than 2 months away and this past weekend I hosted my first camp where all campers ran and rode the race course. One of the campers had good question about transitions and the logistics of it. It reminded me of how different transitions are in a full Iron distance race particularly the Ironman branded ones. Unlike a local triathlon where you bring all your gear on race morning and organize your small area in the transition area, in an Ironman you do not get a spot all for yourself and your things so it becomes a little more complicated. It can almost be a little more nerve wracking. It is a good idea to visualize it and be prepared. Finally for Ironman Boulder things are even more complicated as there are two transition areas, T1 is at the swim exit at the Boulder reservoir and T2 is at Boulder High School where you start the run.
T1: The Boulder Reservoir is where the swim will take place. All the bikes will be racked in the transition area for you to get on the bike after the swim. However the racking of the bikes takes place the day before the race. You will have to bring your bike to the transition are for "bike check in". I know! Who wants to leave their dear steed outside all night getting cold? Some people cover the cockpit and the seat with plastic bags in case it rains. The race director says they will not allow you to cover the whole bike. Another thing you check in the day before is your T1 bag where you can put items you will need for the bike. Any clothing items, your helmet, bike shoes, gels, tools etc. You get to pick up this bag when you get out of the swim. Keep that in mind. Anything you need to ride that you cannot swim with will have to be in this bag or be on your bike. On race morning you will have a chance to visit your bike, pump the tires, put your water bottles and any other item you may choose to attach to your bike that are not on the T1 bag you checked in the day before. You cannot leave anything on the floor. Then you head for the water with your wetsuit, cap and googles.
One final convenient step before you start the swim is a "pre swim bag" race organizers give you a bag where you can put morning items that you want to use or wear before the start of the swim but do not need for the race itself (jacket, sandals etc.). Then you can dump the bag right before you are ready to line up to start the swim into a truck they set up for this purpose. The bag will have your number and you can pick it up after the race.
Once you are done with the swim you will be guided to an area where you pick up the bag that has your items for the bike ride. Remember your race number as the bags are usually hung or lined up by number. You pick your bag up and you head for the transition tent where you open your bag get your items and put your swim items in the bag for retrieval after the race. Volunteers are usually there to help but it's not a guarantee during peak times. Once you are ready hand over the bag to a volunteer and head out of the tent to look for your bike. It would be important to remember where your bike was racked relative to where the tent is. The bikes are also ordered by race number if you do get lost. You get your bike, make sure your helmet is strapped on and then you are off. Have your bike in a relatively easy gear to make this starting process easier.
T2: The big difference between most triathlons and the bike finish of an Ironman is that when you are done with the bike a volunteer takes the bike from you right at the dismount area and puts it away for you. You are now free from your bike. The volunteers will now guide you to get your T2 bag where your running items are. This bag was also checked in the day before and should have your run shoes, hat or visor and anything else you need to start the run. This process is just like the process of getting your bag in T1. The bags are hung or stacked by race number. In a similar manner once you empty the T2 bag you can put bike items such as your helmet or bike shoes in it for retrieval after the race. Put your run items on and off you go. Your marathon waits. No more transitions. For me, having my feet on the ground and not having to worry about uncontrollable things calmed me down quite a bit. Enjoy Ironman Boulder, if you can make my camp June 27th we will ride the entire 112 miles.