More on Ironman New York City

by hillarybiscay

Many have asked for my take on the race in New York City, so I thought I would elaborate here a bit on my thoughts on the event in general. In short, I thought Ironman New York City was all of the hassle (and more) that I expected to come with racing in this location, and little of the benefit.

im nyc ferry 2


  • difficulty of spectating: this was not a spectator-friendly course—particularly the bike portion. Essentially there was one spot on the whole course where people were allowed to stand and cheer. Yep: out and back on an unremarkable highway and no one out there.
  • having to find a cab to take me and my bike when it needed fixing, to go to check in, etc…
  • having to take a cab to a ferry to check my bike in the afternoon before the race, then insert ferry wait times and repeat to get back to my hotel to finally be able to put my feet up (which for me wasn’t ‘til 7PM)
  • 3:20 AM pre-race wake-up to take a cab back to the ferry terminal to get to the race start

Yeah, yeah I could  “just deal” with all of this, but if I wanted to do an ironman before an ironman, I’d just run 100 miles. If I wanted to do a taxing 24-hour event, I would enter one; before an ironman, I’d rather not be dealing with logistical stresses.

im nyc swim


  • Point-to-point swim: like single-loop ironman bike course, a point-to-point swim is also a novelty in our sport. This also meant a sort of not-a-real-swim, though, as it was current-assisted and thus short, at least time-wise.
  • A tough and interesting run course! YES! This was definitely a highlight, especially the first 16-17 miles on the New Jersey side of the race course. There was essentially nothing flat over there, and when you add heat to the mix, you have a hard run. The NYC side was interesting (see below) and tough also—the stairs didn’t end getting on and off the GW Bridge– but could have been a bit better laid out.
  • Specifically, running over the George Washington Bridge. Although I was in no state to appreciate it at the time, I see how this could have been really cool. At least after the fact, it was indeed neat to look back across the Hudson and know that we came from way over there by foot at the end of a long day.

im nyc park   bridge

That said, it was not a bad event. It was completely fine. The race ran as smoothly as it could have given the setting and that it was a first-year event; the organization was pretty darn good. This wasn’t the problem. It’s just that given how many ironman races there are to choose from nowadays, with a huge percentage of them being in the US, I am going to chose a great event, like Ironman Wisconsin, Ironman Lake Placid, or Ironman Coeur d’Alene.

I personally prefer races that draw big crowds and lots of spectator support; that interaction for me is one of the most fun things about racing (and an interesting bike course doesn’t hurt either). And although the first 130+miles of this course were guaranteed to be pretty quiet because of the logistical difficulties with spectator access, I think we all anticipated the benefit of racing in this big city to be lots of people carrying us through those last 8+ miles once we were actually there (the city, that is).

Not so much. We looped back and forth on ourselves in a pretty small park area (i.e. we did not even come close to actually covering 8 miles, point to point), and indeed there were people in the park, but they certainly weren’t there to cheer for crazy endurance athletes, if you know what I mean. At one point, on a narrow pathway, I had a woman in a bra and jean shorts on rollerblades run head-on into me; I literally had to physically move her out of the way to get by.

I think I also expected the NYC finish-line to be epic; after all, this race was hyped up to be bigger and better . . . And granted, I was hardly seeing straight by the time I hit it, but I just remember being not far from the thing and it being quite inconspicuous—just an ironman sign atop a clock in a nondescript park area.

It was weird. I will say, however, that if this is in fact a one-and-done race, I am glad that I got to experience it for myself.

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