Picking the right accommodations for your race can have a positive impact on your ironman experience. Here are five important tips to consider when choosing that all important place to stay.
(1)Be sure to book early. The longer you wait to book the less options you leave yourself. Often rooms are booked a year ahead of time. Athletes who know there is a good chance they may return to the same race the next year, will re-reserve a room before they leave town. Even if you’re not entirely positive you’ll be ready to race the following year, book anyway. Even if a deposit is required its normally 100% refundable if you give them fair notice. Its not usually a problem at an Ironman venue, because they know there will always be someone else to take the room.
(2)Location, location, location. This is very important. You want to try and get just the right distance away from the race start/transition area. Often there will be a hotel listed as the race headquarters. Most likely that’s where registration will take place and at most IM races, this hotel will be right beside the race start area. You definitely should try avoid staying at that location for a few reasons. First of all, it will be very, very expensive. It will also be very, very busy. Its simply too close to the action and hype. By the same token, don’t book so late that you end up staying outside of town. Its just not convenient for registering, the expo, and carbo and awards dinners. Also, you don’t want a drive so far, that you have to worry about car problems causing you to be late getting to the race start. Don’t leave anything to chance. I would say the perfect distance would be about a 15-20 minute walk. That would make it about an 8 minute bike ride or around 5 minutes by car if you’re driving. That way you’re close to everything, but still have a bit of buffer zone from all the hype.
(3)Remember that by going to the host IM website for accommodation information, you will most likely only be given a few options. Often they will give you a list of expensive hotels and if at all possible you should try and avoid staying in a hotel room. A better option is to key the the name of the race venue into google. For instance “Penticton accommodations” if you’re going to Ironman Canada. Or “Kona accommodations” if you’re going to Hawaii. This should bring up a better variety of available accommodations with contact information etc. The best method I ever came up with personally was to phone the chamber of commerce of the particular city(pretty well every town or city has one). You’ll get a real live person who actually lives in the area and you can tell them exactly what you’re looking for. They will also have all the phone numbers for you.
(4)Find a motel with full kitchen facilities. Avoid hotel rooms unless its your only option.
A fully equipped kitchenette will have a stove, fridge and all the dishes, pots and pans and utensils. Its absolutely the best way to go for an Ironman competition. Also, the are often less expensive than the fancy hotels. With a kitchenette unit, you can just go shopping at the nearest supermarket when you arrive and basically be able to stay with the diet you are used to. Personally, I think its a far better and safer option than eating restaurant food three times a day. You just never know for sure what you’re eating. Also, you have a refrigerator to keep your drinks cool and in between meal snacks fresh. It really is the very best option.
(5)Try and make sure you are not right on the Ironman course. This can make it difficult to return to your lodging after the race. For the most part the roads will be closed until the last few entrants have reached the finish. try and be at least 2 or 3 blocks either side of the main course. When you arrive at your choice of lodging, be sure to take practice drives(if you have a car there)down to the main transition area. Decide ahead of time where you plan to park on race morning. Once again, stay away from the main course as you may find that you can’t get out after the race. Leave for the check-in and numbering on race morning as early as possible. The prime parking spots will be gone very early. If you’re in short walking distance,(15-20 minutes)you have nothing to worry about. Try and avoid walking to much further than that, as you will have your bike and all your gear to haul after the race. It would be ideal if you had someone to help you out after the race.
Ultimately, planning ahead will make your Ironman experience all that much better. Make the choices that will make your stay stress free and enable you to concentrate on the race itself.
My name is Ray and I’ve had a 25 year career in endurance events, including 14 Ironman triathlons.
I’ve created a site called “Ironstruck” for the beginner triathlete/novice-ironman.
Come for a visit……http://triathlon-ironman-myfirstironman-ironstruck.com