IRONMAN Santa Rosa - 2019 Course Preview

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Race Overview


The average temperature on race day is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but can sometimes be much hotter. Morning temperatures tend to range from the low 40s to mid 50s.

Swim Course Cut-Off Times

  • The swim course will close 2 hours and 20 minutes after the last age group athlete starts the swim.

  • Each athlete will get the full 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 2.4 mile swim regardless of what time they enter the water. Athletes who take longer than 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the swim will receive a DNF.

  • IRONMAN officials reserve the right to pull athletes off the course who exceed any established course time cut-offs.

Bike Course Cut-Off Times

  • The bike course will close 10 hours and 30 minutes after the last athlete enters the water.

  • Each athlete will have 10 hours and 30 minutes to complete the swim, T1 and bike course regardless of when they start the swim. Any athlete that arrives at the bike dismount after 5:40 PM* will not be permitted to continue and will receive a DNF.

  • Intermediate bike course cut-offs:

    • At the start of the “Second Lap” at approximately mile 69, at Chianti Road & Zanzi Road at 2:45 PM.

    • At the Bike Aid Station 3, at approximately mile 96, at Mark West Station Road near Slusser Road at 4:45 PM.

Run Course Cut-Off Times

  • The run course will close 17 hours after the last athlete enters the water.

  • Each athlete will have 17 hours to complete the entire course. Any athlete that takes longer than 17 hours to complete the entire course will receive a DNF.

  • Intermediate cut-off at the start of the third lap of the run course. Any athlete who has not started third lap at approximately mile 17.5 by 10 PM will not be permitted to continue and will receive a DNF.


  • The race will officially end 17 hours after the last athlete enters the water.

Pre-Race Information

Athlete Check-In

  • Location:  Courthouse Square

  • Wednesday, May 8, 2019:  9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

  • Thursday, May 9, 2019:  9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Mandatory Athlete Briefing

  • Location:  Courthouse Square

  • Wednesday, May 8, 2019:  11:00 AM and 2:00 PM

  • Thursday, May 9, 2019:  11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 4:00 PM

  • Friday, May 10, 2019

Mandatory Bike Check-In

  • Location:  Lake Sonoma

  • Friday, May 10, 2019:  10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Mandatory Run Gear Check-In

  • Location:  Courthouse Square

  • Friday, May 10, 2019:  9:00 AM - 3:00 PM


Transition Opens and Body Marking

  • Location:  Lake Sonoma

  • Saturday, May 11, 2019:  5:00 AM - 6:45 AM

Athlete Shuttle Bus Service (no spectators permitted)

  • Location:  Corner of B Street and 2nd Street to Lake Sonoma

  • 4:15 AM - 5:30 AM

Official Race Start

  • 6:40 AM - 7:10 AM:  Age-Group Rolling Start

Pre-Race Tips

Tips from Purple Patch Pro, Sarah Piampiano

  • This course is AWESOME! Lake Sonoma is stunning, the bike course is challenging — rolling but incredibly beautiful and fun! The run is tree lined with a good chunk of the run on dirt road, which makes it easier on your legs.

  • Sonoma can be very cold in the mornings and become very hot during the day.  Think low- to mid 40s in the morning hours and high 90s by the afternoon. Come prepared! If you like to get your training in early, then hats, gloves and warm gear might be needed both for training in the days before the race as well as the morning of the race before the gun goes off. The great thing is that you can likely get through a good portion of the bike before the temperature really heats up, which makes things like core temperature management a bit easier.

  • Sonoma can be really dry, so make sure to hydrate really well in the lead up to the race, as well as stay on top of your hydration on race day.  

  • With different transitions, it can be a bit stressful to get around and get your bike and gear checked in the day before the race. Leave yourself plenty of time and don’t leave it to the last minute. You’ll end up feeling quite stressed as traffic into Lake Sonoma can be bad.

Pre-Race Tips

  • With the large temperature swings of the heat in the middle of the day to cool nights, it is worth removing some of your air in your tires when you rack your bike the night before the race.

  • Race morning pump your tires to your race pressure. This will reduce the risk of pressure-related blowouts when the bike is racked the day prior.

Pre-Race Tips from Matt Dixon


Don’t forget to warm up.  One of the biggest mistakes I see is the lack of a warm-up prior to the swim. At any distance, a lack of warm-up is a performance inhibitor for many athletes.

  1. Set up transition: arrive with lots of time to spare.

  2. Running warm-up: 10-15 minutes of very easy jogging. When return have a little fuel and hydration.

  3. Check transition and put on the wetsuit: final preps, kiss your family, friends, dogs, and teammates.

  4. Swim warm-up: check the course buoys one more time then go:

    • 3-5 min easy swimming then:

    • 30 sec moderate

    • 30 sec smooth

    • 20 sec strong

    • 30 sec smooth

    • 10 sec V strong

    • 30 sec smooth

    • 20 sec strong

    • 30 sec smooth

    • 30 sec moderate

    • Can go through twice if you wish!   Ready to race!

Swim Course

Length: 2.4 miles (3.86 km), 2 laps

Swim Course Map

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Water Temperature

The average water temperature in May is typically between the mid 50's and low 60's

degrees Fahrenheit. It’s cold and wetsuit legal.

Swim Course Description

Nestled in the beautiful coastal foothills of Sonoma County, athletes will swim in Lake Sonoma.

Athletes will start their swim from the boat ramp on the north side of the Rockpile Road Bridge.

Swimmers will swim two loops in the lake before exiting and running up the boat ramp to transition.

Swim Tips

Swim Gear Tip from Sarah Piampiano

Bring multiple pairs of goggles for race day as the sun could be right in your eyes,but if there is cloud cover, you may want a lighter lens.

Swim Tips from Matt Dixon

  • Lake Sonoma brings its own challenges. While the lake can be pristine, be prepared for potential chop in the swim and cooler waters than some might anticipate for the area. This is a double-cap swim in the Spring.

  • The rectangular course will require good sighting and awareness, but if conditions are favorable, then you will enjoy a nice, balanced and even IRONMAN swim.


  • For most amateurs, drafting is overrated, as the person you are following is likely as poor as you at sighting. Focus on your output, swimming straight, then tuck into a nice draft IF there is an opportunity.

T1 Tips

  • Carpeted or padded boat ramp is not a given and the boat ramp is rough if you have sensitive feet, 0.25 mile uphill on Lake Sonoma Boat Ramp (up to Transition).  You can stage shoes if you feel you need them, as the padding does not extend the entire length of the boat ramp.

  • 0.10 of a mile up the ramp, run under underpass, then another shorter and less steep climb, hard left hand turn onto transition surface into T1.

  • Cooler in the morning, could be a little damp and cold (60 - 62 range in morning).  Dress accordingly. Arm warmers and/or gloves are recommended at a minimum and possibly a vest for those more susceptible to the cold. Take the time to dab yourself dry before mounting your bike.

T1 Tips from Sarah Piampiano

  • The run out of T1 is tough. It is straight uphill and a good 600 meters into the actual transition. If they will allow it, I might suggest leaving an old pair of sneakers that are loosely tied (and have some visible marker on them!) just out of the water so that you can throw them on for the run. If the lake is cold, your feet may be numb and it makes that run to transition hard. Having shoes on would help tremendously on the rough surface.

  • Although you might be full of adrenaline, pace yourself on the uphill run. Take deep breaths, get your breathing under control and use it as an opportunity to mentally prep yourself for the ride.

  • If it is cold out, don’t feel overwhelmed if you are stumbling a bit in transition to get your socks or helmet on. Numb hands and feet can do that do you! Just slow down, take your time and make sure you have everything you need for the ride.

T1 Tips from Matt Dixon


The fun will begin as you exit the water with an extended boat ramp leading the way into transition. Several minutes in duration, the long and relatively steep ramp will leave athletes feeling rather out of breath as they head to T1. Already the highest heart rate section of many athlete’s races, it is worthy to stay calm, control the effort; and less competitive runners simply walking with purpose toward T1. It is a great time to begin stripping the wetsuit, as well as cap and goggles, but it is not worth charging the hill hard and blowing up the heart rate when your body still thinks it is in the prone position of swimming.

Bike Course

Length: 112 miles, (180.24 km), 2 loops

Bike Course Map

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Bike Course Overview

Athletes will be traversing the beautiful Sonoma County wine country in the Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, and Dry Creek Valley. In 2018, the bike course returns to its roots and is bringing back the Chalk Hill Road section. This beautiful course will showcase all the beauty of the Sonoma County wine country.

Bike Course Elevation

  • Starting Elevation: 597 feet

  • Finishing Elevation:  163 feet

  • Total Gain:  3,941 feet

Bike Course Nutrition at Aid Stations

Gatorade Endurance Formula (Flavor: Orange)



GU ROCTANE Energy Gels

BASE Performance Bars

Red Bull

Bike Tips

Bike Tips from Sarah Piampiano

  • The bike course is absolutely lovely. It winds through vineyards and is rolling with some good climbs. Use caution on the descent out of transition. It is fast and windy and you will have lots of adrenaline (as will everyone else!). I would play it safe as you don’t want your day to end before it even really begins. Ride with a head up and good awareness.

  • Once you are at the bottom of the hill, the course settles into a great rhythm.  Parts of the course have some rough pavement, so just be aware of road quality, but for the most part the roads are in great condition. Remember to carry your power over the crest of the hill and bring that momentum into the downhills to maximize speed.

  • Make sure to use every aid station to top up your fluids

Bike Tips from Paul Buick

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  • Old meets new - best of both worlds.

  • Leaving the lake remains the same for the first several miles.

  • The “Old Course” lumps are back with Chalk Hill as the most obvious new feature at miles 33 and 89.  Fuel before the climb to ensure you are set for the descent. The 8/10ths of a mile hill averages 5.5% but its steepest section is near the top - definitely not a hill to charge at the bottom - let the hill bring the work - vary the load and manage the steeper section with good form.

  • You will get to recover on the fast down hill but be mindful of other athletes who may be riding erratically here due to the effort on the hill and using the downhill to eat and drink - keep the legs turning over with higher cadence and a little tension. It will be a waste of resources to drive too hard before the fast left hander at the end of Chalk Hill Road. Pay attention here as the road surface is rough and the gradient steeper than it appears.

  • Resurfacing has occurred on a few sections of the course but still be aware of poor road surfaces with cracks and potholes.

  • Adding some more obvious course features suits the well prepared, thinking athlete - a chance to make up time, add variation and if ridden well can offer a comparative advantage on the run over less well prepared athletes.

Bike Tips from Matt Dixon

  • Remember, it might be chilly in the morning, despite heat rising throughout the day, so be prepared to come out of the water and get layers on. Typically, toe covers, gloves and thin layers on the bike that you don’t mind shedding as temperatures will climb quite quickly. Anything you wear will be gone by the time you end the bike, so don’t choose your favorite wind vest.

  • The course itself is a wonderful example of terrain management and personality. Enough to remain engaged and seek chances to gain momentum, avoid losing speed and maximize return on your power with thoughtful efforts and nudges over crests and through the dips of a roller. This is not a course in which you should be trying to ride at one cadence and one power throughout.

  • As it is an IRONMAN - with a hot run coming off the bike - a little consideration should be given to the run performance when riding, but this doesn’t mean hold back. Ride the course well, and ensure your best riding occurs toward the end of lap one and through lap two. I would not over-focus not eh chalk hill climb, as there is simply no ‘easy’ way to get up. Just manage the climb as a tangential piece of the big puzzle, using best form and tools you can (some standing, vary cadence, etc.), then carry on with the global pacing once over the top.

  • If you truly ride this course with a speed focus, not a lens on average power, then you will not only have a best bike performance, but also be equipped to run well.

T2 Tip from Sarah Piampiano

Nothing too tricky about this transition! It is great as it is right in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa with great crowd support! Soak it up!

Run Course

Length: 26.2 miles (42.16 km), 2 loops

Run Course Map

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Run Course Overview

Athletes will transition to the run and will link up with the Santa Rosa Creek trail.  This tree lined 3-loop run course will provide a flat, shaded fast course for athletes to enjoy. Each loop will return near the Courthouse Square for ideal spectator viewing with the Finish on the north side of the Courthouse Square.

Run Elevation

  • Starting Elevation: 180 feet

  • Finishing Elevation:  177 Feet

  • Total Gain:   277 Feet

Run Course Nutrition at Aid Stations

Gatorade Endurance Formula (Flavor: Lemon-Lime)



Chicken Broth (after dark)

GU ROCTANE Energy Gels

BASE Performance Bars

Red Bull Pretzels

Fruit:  bananas and oranges

Run Tips

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

  • Really pay attention to your hydration and nutrition, and concentrate on keeping your core temperature cool.

  • And don’t be fooled on the bike. The breeze from riding might help you feel cooler, but you still have to hydrate, take in electrolytes and even added salt. And don’t forget to manage your core temperature. Core temperature management is going to be even more key when you are on the run.

Run Tips from Sarah Piampiano

  • This is one of my favorite run courses on the circuit! It is flat and half of every loop is on a tree-lined dirt path. It blocks you from the sun and wind, which is a welcome respite if the day is hot!

  • The course can be a little narrow and will get crowded, so, particularly at the aid stations, be sure to speak up to get what you want. Use the ice that is available as much as you can (I like to pour it down the back of my jersey and have it sit in the small of my back).

  • Because it is a multi-loop course, it makes it easier to break the course down into segments. Out and back x3. If you are going through a rough patch try to reset yourself for the next out. Or the next back. If you are feeling good, it can still help to compartmentalize the distance into shorter, more digestible segments.

  • Good Luck to everyone!

Run Tips from Matt Dixon

  • Fast. Very fast. That can be the expectation, with a variable surface, almost dead flat shaded run course. Based around the Santa Rosa Creek Trail, you shouldn’t expect massive rollers or challenges on this run course. With a total elevation gain of around 361 feet over 26.2 miles, this is a course you will be seeking variability and changes of grade.

  • You should be mostly protected for the sun and heat of the day, and the course should allow a social and well supported route.

  • It is going to be a fun one, but be aware of potential course congestion later in the race.

  • The finish will come to a wonderful downtown finish near the Old Courthouse, so you will have plenty of opportunity to celebrate with family and friends on the run in.

  • With all this said, the fast course requires management, and deliberate focus onlooking after the basics. Don’t forget to fuel and hydrate, especially if the weather forecast brings high heat.

Matt’s Final Thoughts

Focus on the process not outcome.

  • Triathlons can elicit monkey brain. You may start asking yourself a lot of questions during the race, and lose focus on the immediate task at hand. Controlling that attention and focus is part of the challenge and the fun.

  • Don't evaluate too early. Many athletes start evaluating their performances before they finish the race and leave some potential strewn across the course.  Triathlons require you to remain focused on execution and process, without a thought of the outcome during the race. Save your race evaluation for the recovery tent.

  • Fueling: Check in with yourself throughout the race and continually assess your calories and hydration intake. It may be hot this year, so think about that when you are planning your hydration and remember calories every 10-15 minutes. If your mood starts to drop, it is likely calories.

  • Pacing: Managing your effort, gearing, and pacing in each part of the race.

  • Form: Staying supple on the bike, good tension on the chain, running tall on the run with good foot-speed. Basically, all the things we have talked about so far!

Don’t let the support, terrain and spirit of this course deceive you. It is a wonderful race, so go have fun and embrace it.

Best of luck, we will see you on the course.