Unofficial Ironman® Arizona Race 411

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Welcome to the Endurance Nation Race Strategy page for Ironman® Arizona!

Endurance Nation is five-time Division One Global Ironman® TriClub Champions — no team on the planet has raced more often or as fast as Endurance Nation. Explore this page for some of our guidance, head over to the EN Blog or consider signing up to train & race with us. Plans start at just $47!  Click here to pick the right option for you 

Our goal here is to get you 100% up to speed and ready to have your best race possible. Every single race is unique, and Ironman® Arizona is no exception. Temperatures are generally mild, though you can expect wind on the bike. And since Arizona is such a late season race, have a plan to preserve your motivation across what will surely be a very long training season.

Three Bullets Video | Detailed Race Info | Equipment | The Swim | The Bike | The Run | Free Trial

Three Bullets on Ironman® Arizona

Don’t have time to dive into a full review of the course? Then cover the most important highlights in this short video with Coach Rich from Endurance Nation.

Detailed Race Information

Equipment Recommendations [top]

Temperatures are generally mild for Tempe in November, though it may be chilly at the start of the race and winds are sure to pick up on the bike. And the desert cools down quickly after sunset so be prepared for that as well.

The Swim: Bring everything you need.  It’s always best to bring a skinsuit, just in case. Tinted goggles also recommended. 

The Bike:  this is a fast bike course that rewards aerodynamics, especially on the 2nd and 3rd loops as the winds pick up. We recommend a triathlon bike with all of your aero wizardry applied: front race wheel, rear disk (or wheel cover), aero helmet, race tires, smart bottle and equipment placement, etc. 

For gearing, we nearly always recommend a compact crank (50/34) or “super compact” (52/36) if you’re a bit of a stronger rider on an 11-speed bike. Everyone should have at least a 25t cog on their cassette, with less strong riders always benefiting from a 28t or higher (for example, a 28-12 cassette). Strong riders may consider at 53 or 54 big ring and a 23-11 cassette. The back section on the Beeline is fast and you’ll want to gear your bike for top end speed.

The Run:  You will want to choose the gear that will give you the flexibility to handle the heat if a hot day is in the cards. It will need to have pockets for carrying nutrition, and plenty of zippers so you can reduce any accumulated heat. A hat is recommended, of visor at a minimum. 

If you aren’t carrying your own fluids with you, then plan on transporting salt at a minimum so you can keep your gut happy. Plan on a race number belt with pockets to carry salt/fuel. You can access your Run Special Needs bag only at the beginning of the second loop.

Swim Course Breakdown  [top]

The Ironman® Arizona swim is a single loop, as a very long out, flip it, and come back. You will seed yourself in the chute according to your projected swim time. You’ll exit the swim by climbing up some metal stairs with the assistance of helpful volunteers…find a big, strong one! While there is a practice swim on Saturday, we don’t recommend it, as you’ll be very busy that day checking in your bike and gear.  

>> View the online swim map here

Key Points:

  • Long out and a long back in a canal. Navigation skills not really required.
  • The water is dark and it can be cold, especially air temps in the morning.
  • Bring everything you need for a wetsuit/non-wetsuit swim.

Bike Course Breakdown [top]

The Ironman® Arizona bike is three loops, with the 2nd and 3rd loops becoming particularly crowded, featuring a 9 mile out and back on the Beeline Highway each lap. The Beeline is gradually uphill out and downhill back, with winds picking up unpredictably and successively with each loop.

The key terrain on the course is ^this^ gradual climb and the winds, with pacing errors on the 1st and 2nd laps of the bike expressing themselves as compromised riding positions into the heavy winds of the 3rd lap.

>> View the official bike map here.

Key Points:

  • Ride very easy, ignoring everyone around you, until the top of the Beeline on your first trip up.
  • From there, just execute the terrain in front of you in a manner that sets up the run, but be aware of your effort each time up (don’t go too hard) and down (don’t come off the gas) the Beeline.
  • If you need to go from the aerobars to the hoods, due to crosswinds, stay low and hide from the wind!

Run Course Breakdown [top]

The Ironman® Arizona run course is two loops and doesn’t feature any significant hills or terrain to speak of on the course. However, be prepared for long periods of no spectator support and it can get dark out there quickly, with the shortened days in November. 

We recommend you give yourself 6 miles of easy running to settle in, getting a head start on your nutrition and hydration. From there, run comfortably, getting what you need at the aid stations and preparing yourself mentally to dig deep after mile 18.

>> View the Run Map here.

Key Points:

  • Run stupid easy the first 6 miles.
  • Run the tangents on the curvy sidewalks.
  • Stay focused on your pacing, nutrition, and hydration in the lonely parts of the course.
  • Be prepared to step on the gas at about mile 21 or 22, finishing strong!


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