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Ironman Coeur d'Alene Course Review

Posted: May 30 2014

This is our namesake race, so we wanted to share our review of IMCDA.


Ironman Coeur d'Alene Review

Ahh…Coeur d’Alene. It has a special place in our hearts here at Coeur. In case you didn’t know, Coeur is French for Heart and the root of the word courage and we had Ironman Coeur d’Alene (“IMCDA”) in mind when we named the company. You see, IMCDA was Kebby’s first Ironman.

Anyway, the word Alene means awl (as in the pointy thing), so technically, Coeur d’Alene means “heart of the awl”. Rumor has it that French fur traders gave the area this name out of respect for the tough negotiations they encountered with the local Indian tribe.

Several Coeur employees have raced Ironman Coeur d’Alene and we think it is one of the most beautiful courses on the Ironman circuit.

But don’t be fooled by the beautiful scenery. Just like the Indian tribe, IM CDA is tough. It is known for a deceivingly hard bike and unpredictable weather.

To get there, you’ll likely fly into Spokane and drive over. On the drive, you’ll get sense for the natural beauty and you’ll start to see the rolling hills that can take a bite out of your legs.

The Town

We think Coeur d'Alene is one of the prettiest stops on the circuit

Coeur d’Alene is a resort town with golf, skiing and spas. It has a relatively small population of around 50,000 but the constant influx of visitors makes it seem bigger. The people are almost universally friendly and they seem to be thrilled to host the Ironman.

There are over 50 lakes in the area but none (in our opinion) are as breath taking as Lake Coeur d'Alene where you’ll be doing your swim. The town sits on this body of water and it is a key player in the race and the daily life of the city.

Where to Stay

The Coeur d'Alene Resort on 2nd street is the host hotel and is a logical place to stay if you want convenience. There are also quite a few vacation rentals in town and around the lake but book early if you want to be close to town.   IMCDA is a favorite on the circuit and the good houses seem to get taken very early. One year, we actually stayed at a house on Beauty Bay and no issues with getting back and forth to the race venue. Beauty Bay is about 12 miles by car and it only takes about 20 minutes to get to the race area.

Beauty Bay is an option if you want to get away from the city


The Weather

IMCDA is known for having very unpredictable weather. There have been years like 2006 where it got into the high 90’s and other years where they handed out space blankets to keep people warm. There have been other years where it was absolutely perfect. So, In other words, be prepared for anything. How’s that non-conclusiveness?

The Swim

Ok, let’s talk about the swim. It is in Lake Coeur d'Alene and is one of the few two-loop affairs on the circuit. It depends on how you look at it, but we think the two loop set up is nice. It makes it easy to break the swim up and it helps make the course look more manageable. Plus, your friends and family will have an opportunity to see you come out of the water twice.

It’s a wide beach start with a run into the water when the gun goes off. Between the laps you cross a timing mat before wading back in. The water temp seems to range from cold (low 60’s) to freakin cold (mid-50’s), so you’ll definitely need a wetsuit and you might consider some more head protection.

Just to make things more interesting, it can also get windy during the swim and that can whip up some decent sized waves. Again, it is all in how you look at it but the wind can be ok since it helps you on the return in to the beach. In fact, when I did the race in 2009, I practically body surfed in thanks to the strong wind.

Continuing with our positive outlook, we’re also pleased to tell you that the lake has a sandy bottom and the water is generally very clear.

The Bike

As with the swim, the bike is a “two looper” and as we mentioned, it is deceivingly tough. Well, maybe not even deceiving. It’s tough. Out of the transition area, you make your way north toward Hayden Lake. The first section of something like 20 miles contains rolling hills but soon after that, you start to feel the burn. I rode with a garmin that showed the incline and several of the climbs hit double digit percentages. Ouch.

Once you’ve made it over the hill section, the course flattens out bit and you get a fast return into town. But then, you get to do it all over again!

As we’ve said in the past, coaching is between you and your coach but we can’t help but suggest that you keep some gas in the tank for the second lap. The hills that were tough on the first lap get downright mean on the second.

The good news is that the crowds are fantastic and they are out cheering at practically all spots on the bike course.

The Run

The run is also a dos loopos. That’s supposed to mean “two loops”, by the way. It follows a public walking/running path along the lake for much of the way. It also, detours through town where you should get a nice bump in energy from the crowds.

In general, it’s fairly flat but there are a few rollers in town and a somewhat brutal climb near the turn-around.

As we mentioned, the crowds just can’t be beat. House parties start going in the afternoon and don’t be surprised if someone offers you something with alcohol and an umbrella in it as you run by.

The buoys will probably be up by the time you see the lake on the run

The Finish

Ok…this is where all the hard work pays off. The finish at Ironman Coeur d’Alene is just fantastic. Mike Reilly’s voice carries all the way out almost two miles and the last stretch down Sherman Ave. into town, is mercifully downhill! The street and the establishments will be full of spectators and their energy will almost lift you up and carry you the last quarter mile.

So there you have it. That’s our Ironman Coeur d’Alene Course Review. We hope you enjoyed it and we hope you have a great race!