Unofficial Ironman Coeur d’Alene 411

Welcome to the Endurance Nation Race Strategy page for Ironman® Coeur d’Alene!

Endurance Nation is four-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 creating a FREE 30-day trial for a season plan, instant workout and expert coaching! 

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® Coeur d’Alene is no exception. The swim is in a beautifully clear lake, the bike course offers you many opportunities to ruin your day before it really begins, and the unshaded run course on a potentially hot day will make sure you don’t forget your Coeur d’Alene experience! Endurance Nation has a long history at IMCDA, with Coach Rich racing the event in 2003, 2005, and 2008, with a course PR of 10:02, and has been at the race several additional times to coach and lead the team. TeamEN has had 15 – 35 athletes at the race every year since our founding in 2007 

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

Three Bullets on Ironman® Coeur d’Alene

Don’t have time 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]

When the race was originally scheduled in June, the weather was remarkably variable. However, now that the event has been moved to August you can expect hot temperatures, especially on the largely unshaded run, so come prepared to race in the heat.

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

The Bike:  as Rich explains in more detail in the video below, it’s very easy to ride too hard in the first 12 miles of the bike, and then again on the generally uphill section out of town, across the lake.  We recommend you pack your Discipline, along with a triathlon bike with all of your aero wizardry applied: front race wheel, rear disk (or wheelcover), 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 26t cog on their cassette (for example, a 26-11 for stronger riders), with less strong riders always benefiting from a 28t or higher (for example, a 28-12 cassette).

The Run:  You will want to choose gear that will give you flexibility to handle the heat, if a hot day is in the card. 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® Coeur d’Alene swim is rectangular, 2 lap course, with rolling start from a beach. You’ll exit and reenter the water at end of the first lap. The water is exceptionally clear and there are trees and hills on the far side of the lake to help you with navigation. However, for practice swims you’ll be required to swim along the shore vs straight out from shore (as the swim course does on race day), so be sure to identify your horizon navigation aids beforehand. 

>> View the online swim map here

Key Points:

  • Self-seeded rolling start from a beach.
  • Use landmarks on the horizon, in addition to the swim buoys, to help you navigate.
  • Bring everything you need for a wetsuit/non-wetsuit swim.

Bike Course Breakdown [top]

The Ironman® Coeur d’Alene has two key terrain features that will tempt you to make poor decisions:

  • The first 12 mile out of and back into town is high energy with some hills to tempt you ride stupidly, as so many others around you will certainly be doing.
  • The long climbs and one direction of the main out and back create the potential for you to work harder than you should, especially if conditions are windy.

Be sure to watch Rich’s video below, as he explains all of this in much more detail.

>> View the official bike map here.

Key Points:

  • Do the opposite of everyone else in the first, high energy 12 miles of the course.
  • Then ride very, very easy to the top of the first grade on highway XX.
  • From there, dial in a smart effort that provides you with an answer to the long climbs on the second lap and a strong finish back to town, before you begin the marathon.

Run Course Breakdown [top]

The Ironman® Coeur d’Alene run course is three loops and mostly flat-ish. You’ll run through town and neighborhoods before banging a right at the lake for the long out and back. There is little to no shade along the lake, though you do have some choice in running surfaces. The finishing run down Sherman is particularly memorable, though the finishing banner may appear to recede in the distance as you get closer!

>> View the Run Map here.

Key Points:

  • Run stupid easy the first 6 miles.
  • Be prepared to run and maintain yourself in the heat.
  • Pour it on when you turn away from the lake and back into the neighborhoods on the third lap.


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