It’s the final stretch before the much-anticipated Ironman Alaska becomes reality across Juneau with thousands of racers from all over the world coming to see if they’ve got what it takes to be christened an Ironman.
For athletes like Jeff Rogers, the City and Borough of Juneau’s financial director — who headed to pick up his gear at the Ironman Village at Thunder Mountain High School on Thursday afternoon — the reality is setting in and the excitement is building.
“I’m very excited for the atmosphere and the community, it’s fun to live here and get to do it with the 1,000 other people who came here to do it with us,” he said.
He said of course there are worries about the weather and gear malfunctions, but he said at the end of the day “you just have to let those things be and do it, and I’m totally excited.”
Juneau’s first year hosting Ironman Alaska is slated to take place from the early hours of Sunday morning and into midnight Monday, and the thousands of spectators and racers are already rolling into town to partake in the events and witness the colossal challenge.
But, along with the excitement of race day people can expect some traffic delays and increased activity near the race as people try to partake in or watch the race as described by Colleen McDonald, the race director of Ironman Alaska, in a public statement.
The Sunday competition will commence with a 6 a.m. age group rolling swim start in the chilly waters of Auke Lake where athletes will complete the 2.4-mile leg before exiting the waters at University of Alaska Southeast.
From there, the racers will hop on their respective bikes and head out the road and back to complete the 112-mile bike portion.
And as a victory lap to conclude the competition, racers will complete 26.2 miles on foot and cross the finish line at UAS.
There is a wide range of fitness levels among the athletes in the race, which means athletes are expected to finish throughout the day and into the night. Officials said the first racers are expected to cross the finish line at the UAS around 1:30-2 p.m. and the final racers are expected around midnight — the race’s 17-hour cut-off time.
Due to the long-spanned amount of time athletes will be competing for each leg, the official said racers will be spread throughout Juneau, and people should expect road delays/closures for the following.
— Mendenhall/Back Loop Road from Auke Lake Way to the Auke Bay Roundabout, Closed 6-9:30 a.m.
— Mendenhall/Back Loop Road from Auke Lake Way to the Auke Bay Roundabout, 9:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
— Glacier Highway from Traffic Circle to North of Echo Cove, 6 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
— Ferry Terminal on Glacier Highway, 6 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
— Mendenhall/Back Loop Road from Auke Lake Way to Montana Creek Road, 10:30 a.m.- 10:30 p.m.
— Montana Creek Road from Mendenhall Loop Road to the Trailhead (including Skaters Cabin), 10:30 a.m.- 10:30 p.m.
— River Road from Mendenhall Loop Road to Kaxdigoowi Heen Dei, 10:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.
— Kaxdigoowi Heen Dei, 11:30 a.m.- 11:30 p.m
— Glacier Highway from Wildmeadow Lane to the Auke Lake Boat Launch, 11:30 a.m.- 12 a.m. (Monday)
— No access to Auke Lake Boat Launch on Saturday, Aug. 6 and Sunday, Aug. 7
McDonald said in a letter to residents that she thanks Juneau for its hospitality during Ironman Alaska’s stay in the city, and said she asks for residents’ cooperation and understanding on race day as people travel throughout town. And, while some people brace for the eye roll of traffic control, others are gearing up.
Genna Boragine, an Ironman Alaska participant who traveled from San Diego with three other racers and volunteers, said out of all the Ironman races the friend group has competed in across the country, Juneau is “the biggest supportive community we have ever been to.”
Boragine was at the Ironman Village picking up their gear bags, which were filled with race day essentials, Alaska goodies and race swag. Boragine said it’s touching to enter into a community that is “super accommodating everywhere” and described the Juneau atmosphere as “literally the best community.”