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What you must know before doing Ironman Cairns

Ironman Cairns Palm Cove

One month on from Ironman Cairns 2021 and what a special day it was for all racing and spectating. 3.8km in the ocean swell at Palm Cove. 180km on the bike between Palm Cove and Port Douglas including riding down to Cairns for a different transition area from T1. Topped off by a 4 lap marathon run course in and around town before coming down the famous finish line red carpet and under the Ironman archway to the words: "You are an Ironman!".

After the celebrations slowly died down and race debriefs were done we asked those racing 3 questions:

  • What was your highlight of IM Cairns?

  • What do you wish you'd known about IM Cairns before you arrived?

  • What would you recommend to others thinking of racing IM Cairns?

Ironman Cairns Finishline
Those finish line emotions - Owen Steer 9h54

What was your highlight of IM Cairns?

"I loved the run course. Although it was probably the toughest part of the day, the atmosphere was incredible! Those finish line feels were like nothing else I'd felt"

"Definitely that finish line feeling. Seeing family and friends as I was running down the red carpet is something I'll never forget. Managing to put together a race I'm extremely proud of was the icing on the cake"

"My highlight from Cairns was finishing in a time I was happy with and racing alongside the other guys from HLT"

"The support on the run and the number of HLT athletes and mates we had racing"

"The location! Palm Cover was a stunning place to start the day and cycling next to the ocean was an incredible experience. Having so many friends / training partners out on course at the same time to cheer on. Seeing so many enthusiastic spectators out on the course. The atmosphere running down the iconic Ironman red carpet at the end of the race"

"All the supporters on the run! What a group of people making a tough day all the better"

"The swim, running down the finishing chute and cheering on the crew competing in the full IM"

"The run! The crowd was absolutely sensational. It's also fantastic seeing your mates on the course also and you know you have the Rusty Medal in the bag"

Cairns Ironman
Joe finishing the bike course after a strong headwind

What do you wish you'd known about IM Cairns before you arrived?

"Just how hot it was going to be on the day. I had underestimated it, even though everyone talks about it. It's a bloody long slog out there under the sun all day. Lucky, I was fortunate enough to borrow some arm coolers last minute - can't recommend them enough!"

"Wish I'd known how to go faster haha!. Na in all fairness between the information provided by Ironman and my coach, I think everything was covered. Wasn't anything unexpected"

"I wish I had known how relentless the headwind can be on the bike - enjoy the tailwind while it lasts because that last 70km back from Port Douglass will be hell"

"I knew it would be hot and humid but I did not prepare for that wind!"

"How on the go you'd be on the day before the race. I arrived in Cairns on the Friday (race is Sunday) but should have flown in earlier. How strong the headwind can be on the bike. I would of pushed harder in unfavourable conditions during training"

"Road conditions on the bike from Palm Cove to Cairns. I was unfortunately at the front of a train of riders towing. Meanwhile, others were tacked on and benefiting without penalty due to the thin road and inability to overtake. Good to know this before"

"Wish I had know about the intense headwinds on the bike course, not to go so hard on the run and I wish my nutrition had been better"

"I wish I knew more about the strength of the headwind on the day. Although it was mentioned in the race plan and I guess the strength really depends on the weather on the day. I really didn't expect it to be so strong and in all honesty never encountered anything that strong in training. I also wish I thought about the logistics of the day a bit more, ie. swim start in Palm Cove, T2 in Cairns. This was all well documented but just a lot of faff in the days leading up to it"

Ironman Cairns Swim
Jonny getting ready for the big day ahead

What would you recommend to others thinking of racing IM Cairns?

"Do it, absolutely amazing course. Loved every bit of it"

"Get a crew of people around you who are keen to see you do well! The training partners I had in the months leading up really pulled me through the tough sessions, and my race was better for it. Having Gaffer to hold you accountable, and talking through a race plan helped to settle nerves on race day. Seeing mates on the course gives you a little boost each time, and it's a great feeling celebrating together afterwards"

"I would recommend staying close to the finish and using the shuttle buses that Ironman put on. Also, if you can, drive the bike course the day before!"

"1) If you can, go and spend a week training in the heat and humid conditions.

2) If it's windy in Sydney, then get out on the bike and endure that pain!"

"Sign up! Prepare yourself for a hot race, especially while on the run. Arrive in Cairns a few days before the race to get settled and stay a few days afterwards to get to explore the area"

"Do it! Great day and venue with loads of supporters all day long. Probably nowhere more scenic"

"I did find it hard to gauge the level of salt loss / sweat on the bike due to the wind on the day. Definitely stick with the nutrition plan you've been training with, but there's always going to be a few unknowns on the day"

"Sign up when you can. You won't regret it. Absolutely stunning course!"

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