IRONMAN European Championship Frankfurt - 2019 Course Preview

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From Matt Dixon


In a word, this race is...special.  One of the truly great races in the global sport, and you can expect not just wonderful organization and a great course, but some of the best support there is.  It should prove to be a life-experience, so lean into the occasion and commit to yourself to love the whole day, no matter what adversity you might be faced with.  On the face of it, this course is very fast, with smooth roads and just a little variance, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The wildcard here is the central European potential for heat which can be sticky and claustrophobic, so be aware and willing to adapt within this framework to be successful.  Don’t chase times, chase your best performance on the day.



Sunrise on race day is at 05:19am, sunset at 09:15pm. The average daytime temperature in July is 20°- 30°C (68° - 86°F).

Course Cut-Off Times


  • 2 hours and 20 minutes after the race start (9:20 AM)

  • Leaving T1:  2 hours and 30 minutes after the race start (9:30 AM)


  • 10 hours (5:00 PM)


  • 15 hours (10:00 PM)

  • Intermediate Cut-off:  36.7k of run (Eiserner Steg)

Finish Line Cut-Off

  • 15 hours (10:00 PM)


Athlete Check-in

  • Location:  Mainkai

  • Thursday, June 27, 2019:  10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

  • Friday, June 28, 2019:  10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Mandatory Athlete Briefing

  • Location:  Tribune finish line, Römerberg

  • Friday, June 28, 2019

    • 2:30 PM:  German

    • 4:00 PM:  English

Mandatory Bike Check-in

  • Location:  Langener Waldsee, Transition area 1

  • Saturday, June 29, 2019

    • 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM:  Bib Numbers 160 - 1600

    • 3:30 - 6:00 PM:  Bib Numbers 1601 and greater

Race Day:  Sunday, June 30, 2019

Body Marking and Gear Check-in

  • 5:00 AM - 6:15 AM

Athlete and Spectator Shuttle Bus Service

  • There will be free shuttle busses on Saturday the 29th of June between 12:30am and 6:30pm (last shuttle departure from Langener Waldsee) from Mainkai and Kurt-Schuhmacher-Straße to Langener Waldsee. This shuttle is for athletes ONLY! Bike transport is possible!

  • On race day June the 30th (available for athletes and spectators):

    • 4:00 AM – 6:00 AM:   Shuttle busses from Race Hotel InterContinental Frankfurt (Wiesenhuettenstraße) and Kurt-Schuhmacher-Straße (Alte Brücke/ Mainkai) to Langener Waldsee (swim start)

    • 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM  Transport for spectators back to Frankfurt, departure from parking place “Sehring”.

    • 6:00 PM – Mid-night:   Return Transport from Frankfurt City (Kurt-Schuhmacher-Straße) to Langener Waldsee. Bike transport is possible!

Official Race Start

  • 6:25 AM:  Pro Males

  • 6:30 AM:  Pro Females

  • 6:40 - 7:00 AM:  Age Group Rolling Start



  • 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.

  • Ensure you check gears and equipment of race morning, as well as looking ahead at the weather for the day.  What happens at 2 PM might be very different to what you are feeling at 6 AM.

Pre-Race Tips from Purple Patch Pro, Sarah Piampiano

  • It is critical to get warmed up and activated prior to any race, and Frankfurt is no different.  I would leave plenty of time to sort equipment and get to the start line, while also being able to run a little and go through activation.

  • Swim warm up can be a challenge with the numbers, so plan ahead and don’t get lost in the crowds.

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 (pros and all the way down).

  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.


Length:  3.8 km, 1 loop

Swim Course Animation can be viewed HERE

Swim Course Map  can be viewed online HERE


Swim Overview

  • The swim start is a rolling start from the beach area of "Strandbad Langener Waldsee." Start and finish of the swim course are on the same beach but on different places. The athletes have to swim 3.8 km, with a short running passage over the beach.

  • The decision whether the athletes can swim with or without wet suit is going to be announced one hour before the start of the race.


Pre-Race Tips

  • Know the course!  While this is relatively simple in focus, I would absolutely know both the entry point and logistics of getting into the water, the buoy line and key sighting features, as well as the exit and transition path.  Planning ahead lowers stress on race day.

Swim Gear Tip

  • Sun is likely here -- but plan ahead.  Darker googles are likely your best selection in this race to offset the morning sun, but be prepared with an extra pair of googles that are more suited to dull conditions if needed.

  • No need to plan for extra layers -- such as neoprene cap -- you shouldn’t need.

Swim Tips from Matt Dixon

  • Swim in a straight line! Surely the most important tip -- and this means frequent sighting to navigate.  Don’t just lift your head. Look for sighting cues and buoys and ensure you course correct.

  • Don’t be a lemming.  Most triathletes are not great at swimming in a straight line, so resist simply putting all your trust in other athletes.

  • If you don’t like your rhythm, change it.  With open water, many athletes get caught up in a metronome mindset, gradually putting less and less tension (propulsion) on the water.  Shift gears, change rhythm, and force propulsion to keep engaged.

Swim Tips from Sarah Piampiano

  • I always need to remember to breathe in the initial 100 meters of the swim and not over-force it.  I begin with a calm mindset then ramp effort.

  • As a weaker pro swimmer, I am often isolated in the swim.  I force engagement and speed via breaking up the swim into subtle intervals.  I might do 200 strokes strong then lengthen and settle for 25 to 50 strokes, then 150 strokes strong into 25 to 50 strokes smooth and so on.  Just like a pool session, my best swims have come with a splash of variance.


  • Calm, controlled, and aim to keep heart rate and breathing under control.

  • Have a plan and execute, don’t leave it to chance.


Length:  185 km, 2 loops

Bike Course Animation can be viewed HERE

Bike Course Map can be viewed online HERE


Bike Course Overview

  • A 13 km connection leads the athletes from "Langener Waldsee" to Downtown Frankfurt (Mainkai), onto the 2-loop bike course through the surroundings – every kilometer on completely closed roads! Traditional Half-timbered houses in Maintal-Hochstadt: this is supposed to be a very crowded place on race day.

  • Bad Vilbel main road with a steep incline. This place should become a special point creating a "Tour de France Atmosphere" with thousands of spectators along the street.

  • Due to an unalterable construction site in the municipality Karben and the lack of alternative routes, which would fulfil all our quality requirements, the bike course is 185k long this year - redirected close to Heldenbergen and Friedberg.

Bike Course Nutrition at Aid Stations

The bike course provides four fully equipped aid stations and two water stations per loop. All aid stations are set up in the same order. At the aid stations, a variation of drinks are offered, all in sport bottles (750ml) :

  • Water

  • Coke (diluted with water)

  • ENERVIT ISOTONIC Drink orange

In addition there are:

  • Bananas (cut in half)

  • Enervit orange und apricot energy bar (cut in half)

  • Enervit gels orange

At water stations, only water in bottle is available.


Bike Tips

  • This is a great course but can get busy.  In general, the standard of riding is quite strong (relative to US races) so don’t be intimidated.  Ride your race, navigate the terrain, and break the course down into sections as much as you can,

Bike Tips from Matt Dixon

  • While this is a fast course, it holds variance.  This is great to shift postural stress and utilize to vary load.  Make the most of the course features and be willing to look for every chance to maximize speed return for effort/input.

  • While you can be cautious on spikes of high power, it is a mistake to try to hold a single power throughout this terrain.  Hills will see generally lower cadence and higher power, while downhill grades and tail winds should see a drift down in power numbers, but a shift up in cadence.  Enjoy the speed.

Bike Tips from Sarah Piampiano

  • Don’t ride soft on this.  It is a joyous two loop course with variance.  This means it rewards the brave and engaged athlete who is keen to look for returns on effort investment.  

  • Don’t look at average power as your litmus of success.  The rollers and grades might pull average power down, but that metric isn’t a measure of success is.  The goal is to ride as fast as you can, while running well off the bike


Length:  26.2 mi/42.2 km, 4 loops

Run Course Animation can be viewed HERE

Run Course Map can be viewed online HERE


Run Course Overview

  • The run course is a 4 loop course. Due to fair play and safety the run course is open for athletes only. Any mobile accompanying is forbidden.

  • For visual control you will receive a wristband when finishing each loop. You have to wear these wristbands fully visible on the right hand at all times. Entering the home stretch is allowed with the four differently colored wristbands only. Staff members will show you the way to the finish line when you leave the loop course. Signs will also indicate the right way.

  • There are NO penalty boxes on the run course. If an athlete receives a penalty on the run course, the BIB Number will be marked right away and he/she has to stop immediately for 1 minute.

Run Course Nutrition at Aid Stations

The run course provides six fully equipped aid stations and one water station per loop. All aid stations are set up in the same order. At the aid stations, a variation of drinks are offered, all in cups:

  • Water

  • Enervit ISOTONIC drink

  • Coke (diluted with water)

  • RedBull (diluted with water; mixing ratio 2:3)

In addition there are:

  • Enervit orange and apricot bars (cut in half)

  • Enervit gels orange

  • Bananas

  • Oranges

  • Apples

  • crackers

At the water stations, water and Enervit ISOTONIC drink are offered.


Run Tips from Matt Dixon

  • Similar to the bike course, this run is fast but with enough variance to make a variance of load possible.

  • Those steep, little, nasty grades on each loop are not to be challenged like fighting a tiger.  Instead, use them to reset form and manage your effort. You have low speed return for high effort on those grades.

  • Leg speed is king on this course so reset and keep it up, especially on those downhill grades.

Run Tips from Sarah Piampiano

  • A fast and fun course with subtle variance and little pitches to help keep the legs moving.  Just be willing to moderate speed if it does end up being a hot one. Those who chase PR splits or last year’s times will run into trouble if it is hot.

  • I like the course for breaking down into sections.  Rather than facing 42 km of pain, I break the course into sections and focus on one piece at a time.  Outside of management of fueling and hydration status, the run is the one place I don’t plan ahead or focus on what’s coming.  Instead, I focus on the now and maximize my speed for the now. I then trust the plan and my fitness to finish the job.


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, and we will see you on the course.

Course photos:  IRONMAN

Kim Kisslo