IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga is HERE.

IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga is just around the corner.  You’ve trained, you’ve prepared, don’t blow it by not being ready for the course!

With any event, I always recommend you READ THE ATHLETE GUIDE –> 2019 70 3 chatt athlete guide rs 3!


Spring has sprung in most areas around the country, and Chattanooga looks ready to start jumping right into summer.  High 80’s and partly cloudy, with a 10% chance of rain.  Now, it’s’ a week out and that could change, but be ready for warmer temps and sun.  At least the humidity is lower in the 50’s for now.

Here’s my advice.

  • Keep an eye on the humidity.  Reaching the 80’s, maybe even 90’s, if you’re not ready for that, it could bite you on the sweat and hydration front.  Just keep an eye on your sweat rate on the bike and adjust accordingly to be prepared on the run.
  • Right now it lists as partly cloudy, but you can still get a sunburn!  SUNSCREEN PEOPLE!  Don’t make a long day even longer.  Lather up.


Little up river and then BOOM down river.  Right now it’s been looking ok.  2018 was perfect.  2017 they cut out the upriver as the current was too strong.  Keep an eye on it.

From the race web site, “The point-to-point swim in the Tennessee River will start 1 mile upstream of transition. Athletes will enter the water in a rolling start and head up river for a short distance before making the turn and heading down river. Spectators will have a great opportunity to watch the swim from the Veterans and Market Street Bridges and the Tennessee Riverwalk. Athletes will exit the water at the beautiful Ross’s Landing Park. The water temperature will be in the low 70’s degrees Fahrenheit.”

Key points:

  • It doesn’t get much better than a point to point river swim. Like 1.5 turns.  Once you head down river everyone spreads out and it’s minimal contact.
  • Site often as you will move quick down river.  It won’t be so fast you will miss the dock, but you don’t want to waste energy when you don’t have to.
  • Know what color the buoys are for turns.  They have orange, yellow, red…. just LOOK at the map before you jump in race day.
  • Look at the course BEFORE you start.  It helps cut down anxiety when you have something for your brain to work on.  Look at the start chute.  Know target 1, 2, etc and where turns are.  Locate land markers for sighting.  When you’re in the water, it’s too late to figure that out.
  • RELAX.  Take the first few 100 yards easy.  Find your rhythm.  Swim your race.  Don’t do anaerobic and freak out looking for air.  You are not going to be able to shoot out at your sprint pace and hold it despite that HUGE shot of adrenaline that you will get when you jump in.
  • Really, this is the best a swim can get for a triathlon.  SOAK IT UP!


3900 feet of elevation gain… hopefully you trained for that!  Notice too that it’s a point to point.  Always fun with the transition logistics, gear, bus to start, etc.  Make sure you hit an athlete briefing and know the plan before race day!!!

From IM site, “The bike course takes riders 11 miles south of town before beginning a 34-mile loop in north Georgia. Athletes can expect incredible views as they parallel Lookout Mountain on this rolling course with great road surfaces. As athletes near the end of the loop they will get the opportunity to ride through historic Chickamauga. The 56 mile course has approximately 2400 feet of climbing.”


  • I raced this last year and the roads are ok.  There are some sections that get tight with cracks, potholes and other cyclists.  Keep in mind the roads are open as well, so keep your eyes open and on the road!  Maybe they paved some since I raced the half and full in 2018.
  • 2200 feet of gain on the bike isn’t a bunch of climbing like you might think.  Most are rolling hills with one short steep climb and a meandering climb before screaming back to the main road off the loop.  A lot of people question using a road bike, changing cassettes, etc.  Don’t.  Use a tri bike, you will be in aero PLENTY.  Use the cassette and gearing you trained with.  It’s not climbing the Alps.  You will do great!  Just don’t hammer the hills.
  • Coming out of T1, don’t gun it no matter how great you feel.  Give yourself 20 minutes to calm down and find your targets.  Your HR should settle and it will be easier to listen to your body.
  • Resist the urge to fly with a tailwind and hammer it.  If you have it at the start and come back on the loop with a headwind, it will be morally defeating to not be able to hold consistent speed or power since you burned it up with the tailwind.  Trust me.
  • FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS on nutrition and hydration.  I always preach the goal is to be 2 to 3% dehydrated off the bike.  You cannot avoid losing no matter how much you think you can take in, so don’t play that game, but make sure you plan your fluids and nutrition how you trained.  You trained like that, right?  It’s going to get hot, and if you are not on top of your water intake, then the run is going to get ugly!  I would even suggest trying to get in minimum your max you planned in training and maybe a bit more.  You don’t want to be in the 5 to 6% dehydrated range rolling into T2.  TRUST ME.
  • The bike is an energy management equation.  If you go through too much, you cannot get it back for the run.  Better to pull back and give up 10 minutes on the bike so you don’t give up 2 minutes per mile or more walking on the run.  Even if the weather is great and you feel great, race your plan!



Where the race really starts.  Did you manage the bike power/effort?  Did you hydrate and eat right?  You’re going to find out now!
From the IM site, “Athletes will have a chance to see the Scenic City as they complete two loops through downtown Chattanooga, The Tennessee Riverwalk, Veterans Bridge, North Shore, Walnut Street Bridge and the beautiful Riverfront Parkway. The final stretch will bring down Riverfront Parkway to finish at Ross’s Landing along the Tennessee River. Total elevation gain for the run is around 800 feet.”
  • 800 feet of elevation gain… they try and butter you up with the scenery comments, but make no mistake, you will run some uphills.  Be ready.
  • Make sure to study the map, maybe walk the turn portions to know how the loops work.
  • If you didn’t hydrate well on the bike, this is where it’s going to catch you.  Some sections have shade, but some don’t and you are exposed to sun, heat and hills.  The down river swim is made up with a challenging run course.
  • Don’t think you will get a chance to catch up on fluids on the run.  It’s a pretty good test of fortitude.

Since you made it this far, also check out last year’s 70.3 pro panel and a tour of the QR bikes factory in Chattanooga.  Great experience to see bike porn and if they have a pro in town, they will have them there for a chat.  Probably Matt Hansen again.


And as a bonus to those that read ALL THE WAY THROUGH, here’s a link to my packing list I use to travel to races.  Enjoy.

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