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Ironman Coeur d'Alene Review

Ironman Triathlon Coeur d'Alene Course Review

We "heart"…Coeur d’Alene. It's special at Coeur for an important reason. You see, Coeur is French for Heart & the root of the word courage.  So we were thinking about IMCDA when we named the company. Coeur d'Alene was Kebby’s first full Ironman and you could say, it started the wheels in motion.

For the record,  the word Alene means awl (think sharp and pointy), so, Coeur d’Alene means “heart of the awl”. Legend suggests that French fur traders gave the area this name out because the local Indian tribe drove very hard bargains.

The region is just beautiful beyond description but don’t be fooled. As with the Indians, IM CDA is tough. It is known for a hard bike and unpredictable weather.

Chances are you'll fly into Spokane and make your way over via car. On the drive, you’ll get sense for the natural beauty while starting to see the rolling hills that can take a bite out of your legs.

The City

 Coeur d’Alene is a resort town with golf, skiing and spas. It has a relatively small population of something like 50K but the constant influx of visitors makes it seem bigger. The people are incredibly friendly and they seem to be quite happy to host the Ironman.

There are over 50 lakes in the area but none are as breath taking as Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Where, oh by the way, 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.


The Coeur d'Alene Resort 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 go quickly. Once, we 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 could be a lodging option


The Weather

IMCDA was known for having very unpredictable weather and there were years like 2006 where it got into the 90’s and other years where we wrapped up in space blankets to keep warm.  The good news is that the race has been moved to the end of August and we're hopeful that temperatures will behave.

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 beach start that is fairly wide 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. You'll make your way West as if you're going to the border and the turn back toward town on Highway 95.They've changed the course since we last did the race but they didn't make it any easier. We've head that there are still sections that get close to double digit inclines. Ouch.

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 two loop run meanders down a public jogging 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 are incredible. The locals start partying in the afternoon and don’t be surprised if someone offers you a brew when you run by.

The beauty continues on the run

The Finish

Well, 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!