Lots of questions are out in the Juneau community about the upcoming Ironman Alaska! Race day is Sunday, August 7, 2022. Here’s a brief Q&A to the event, estimated to bring well over $4 million in economic benefit to our community:
How did Juneau secure Ironman Alaska?
Race organizers contacted Travel Juneau in Fall 2020; we arranged a call then began gathering representatives from all the agencies needed to host the race successfully: Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Juneau Police Department, Capital City Fire/Rescue, and City and Borough of Juneau. Our early meetings included discussions about housing, course routes, security, and impacts on local businesses and residents. After nearly nine months of discussion, and only after all agencies agreed that the event was feasible, Travel Juneau signed a three-year contract. This is a small, boutique race for Ironman group and offers slots to the World Championship in Kona.
Is this the largest event Juneau has hosted? Celebration, hosted by Sealaska Heritage Institute, has historically been a larger event. We anticipate approximately 3,500 Ironman athletes and support staff in town from late July through mid-August.
Where are athletes coming from?
This is an international competition with participants from every state in the U.S. and several countries. Fun fact: there are over 150 athletes from Alaska, 60 from Juneau alone.
How can I volunteer?
Go to the official Ironman Alaska website to register. We have openings for aid station staffing (great for groups!), registration, trash pick-up, and much more. Also, the Ironman Foundation may provide non-profits and youth sports groups a volunteerism grant — to learn more, contact imalaska@Ironmanvolunteers.com. You can keep your team engaged over the summer and earn a little travel or equipment money.
Why were Juneau residents asked to open their homes?
Travel Juneau was up front with the Ironman leadership team about the number of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and short-term rentals that the city could offer. Juneau has a long history of housing student athletes, and we floated the idea of asking residents to open their homes, either as a free homestay experience or as a one-time rental for several days. Ironman athletes were informed that hotels would book quickly but that other housing would be available by mid-to-late spring. To our knowledge, most, if not all, athletes and their traveling parties are housed.
Where will the event take place?
The University of Alaska Southeast is the starting line, transition point, and finish line for all courses (final maps will be posted at traveljuneau.com/Ironman).
Where can I watch?
As the road shoulders are needed for the cycle and run courses (Out the Road and along Back Loop), we ask that residents not attempt to spectate in those areas. A good location for the run course is Thunder Mountain High School, where the expo will also be located. We also ask folks to avoid the Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail both Saturday and Sunday. If you want to see athletes up close, consider volunteering to staff an aid station along the cycle and run courses.
What’s traffic going to be like? Will there be road closures and delays?
In the days heading into the race, residents and tour operators can expect heavier than usual cycle traffic Out the Road and runners along Back Loop and Montana Creek Roads. On race day, Sunday August 7, expect a road closure on Back Loop Road from approximately the roundabout to Auke Lake Way; only Ironman course staff, residents on Caroline Street and at Auke Bay Station Condominiums will have access from approximately 5:30-8:30 a.m. . Residents can also expect afternoon and evening delays at the intersection of Back Loop and Montana Creek Road, and the intersection of Montana Creek Road and Skaters Cabin Road. Details for delays and closures will be mailed to all residents in those areas and will be available on the microsite.
Residents will receive road delay and closure information from both Ironman and Travel Juneau in the coming weeks. Check for more details at the Ironman Alaska microsite, at https://www.traveljuneau.com/ironman/.
We’re excited for this major event, bringing athletes and their supporters from all over the world to see the most beautiful capital city in the U.S.
• Liz Perry is president and CEO of Travel Juneau.