Boulder Ironman
A competitor in the 2016 Ironman Boulder triathlon. Photo by Nils Nilsen

How to Watch the 2017 Ironman Race While Visiting Boulder


Here’s how the fittest city in America does one of the hardest races in the world.

There’s Jose Ramirez, of Nevada, a retired NYPD officer who, at the age of 76, is tougher than many of us will ever be.

Then there’s Austin Cole, of Texas, who is only 18.

There’s also Kyle and Brent Pease, brothers, of Georgia, racing together. Brent Pease will be pushing, pedaling and paddling his younger brother, who has cerebral palsy.

These are just a few of the faces that will be competing in the 2017 Ironman Boulder triathlon on June 11.

The Ironman brings more than 1,300 athletes from 30 countries around the world to iconic Boulder every year. The whole city seems to pause for the major event that spans a 2.4-mile swim in the Boulder Reservoir, a 112-mile bike trek and a 26.2-mile run. All done in succession.

The big Boulder race is a qualifier for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii every fall.

Event organizers selected Boulder for the competition location in 2016 (the first year) because it’s already a popular vacation destination for athletes, who are enticed by its healthy culture, “near-perfect weather,” five-star hotels, James Beard award-winning restaurants and natural environment.

“Boulder holds a special place in the heart of triathletes around the country. The picturesque environment, healthy lifestyle and sophisticated culture of the city all attract Ironman athletes from around the globe each year. Many world-champion triathletes live and train in Boulder, so it made sense for the city to be an Ironman race location,” according to an Ironman spokesperson in an email.

(But of course, we already know that Boulder’s amazing. That’s why we live here.)

If you’re visiting Boulder for the Ironman, here are a few inside tips on how to get the most out of it: Where to watch, where to go, how to celebrate and more.

The Basics

When: Begins at 6:05 a.m. on Sunday, June 11. The race officially ends 17 hours after the swim start.

More info: Visit the Ironman Boulder website for maps and more info.

Boulder Ironman
Jodie Swallow fought hard on the run, in the 2016 Ironman Boulder triathlon. Photo by Nils Nilsen

Spectator Tips

  • Start at Boulder Reservoir, but don’t bother driving your car. Take a shuttle. That’s the only way you’ll get in. You can’t even bike or walk in. Look for the designated“spectator lawn.” Over the course of the race, the course will wind back through this area multiple times.
  • This is more than just a race. You’ll enjoy live music, a free beer garden, food trucks, beach volleyball and you can even go swimming in the res, so pack a suit and prepare for a festival.
  • In the afternoon, head toward the finish line at 13th Street and Arapahoe Avenue. Athletes are expected to start crossing the finish line around 2 p.m. Note: You can’t just walk up to the finish line, though.
  • Don’t try to follow the competitors in your car to watch them. This isn’t safe or allowed.
  • Driving your car in Boulder during the race won’t be fun. Expect congestion and road closures. Check the course maps online before you head into town so you know which roads to avoid. Traffic impacts will be posted on the Ironman website in the spectator guide closer to race week; the Boulder Cone Zones website is also a good resource. In general, take routes around the course instead of trying to cross the course at any location. This will decrease the likelihood of experiencing a significant delay on race day.
  • Make sure you visit the Ironman Village Expo, at Boulder High School, 1604 Arapahoe Ave., which is filled with businesses and exhibitors displaying fitness trends, an athlete panel, giveaways, meetings and more. The village is open Thursday, June 8, through Monday, June 12.
  • While there are many great athletes and inspirational stories, look for John Colvard, of Washington, who was in a bike accident while training for the race. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent 17 days in a trauma center. He was told he shouldn’t get on the bike for six months; instead, he competed in two Ironman races and two 70.3-mile races in that time.
  • You can keep up with the latest race news live during the race online. Visit and click on “race coverage.”
  • After the race, head to the Rayback Collective food truck park, 2775 Valmont Road, for an after-party starting at 6 p.m.
Ironman Boulder
The voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly, encourages racers as the cross the finish line. Photo by Nils Nilsen

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