Monday, August 15, 2022 11:00 AM by Travel Juneau

Travel Juneau announced today the successful realization of the inaugural IRONMAN Alaska triathlon over the weekend of August 7, 2022. Travel Juneau secured the event in August 2021. Over 17 hours, the race included swim, cycle, and run courses, with approximately 1000 athletes from all across the globe competing for finisher medals, bragging rights, and qualifying slots for the 2022 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship taking place in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on Oct. 6 & 8.

The inaugural full-distance IRONMAN event in Alaska truly featured the terrain, landscape, and culture of Juneau. Due to uncharacteristic 56-degree water temperatures and associated safety regulations, athletes began with a shortened 1.2-mile one-loop swim in the beautiful spring-fed Auke Lake, with breathtaking views of the evergreen tree forests and mountain range in the distance. Once out of the water and on the bike for their 112-mile ride, athletes headed north on Glacier highway until the road ends 28 miles from Auke Lake. The two-loop bike course skirted the edge of the stunning coastlines and lush green forests that Juneau has to offer and is known for. For the final portion of the journey, the 26.2-mile run course utilized two historic trails in the area that include Montana Creek, as well as a loop around Auke Lake using the Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail to get back to transition and onto their second lap. Athletes were welcomed back onto the campus of the University of Alaska Southeast with roaring cheers by family, friends, and Alaskan locals as they made their way down the finishing chute.

There were 1500 volunteers – 1300 of which were from the Juneau community – who did everything from stripping off wetsuits following the swim course to handing athletes water and nutrition along the cycle and running courses to award the finishers. Not only did Alaskans come out to take on the inaugural race, but local culture and community were an important aspect in the creation of IRONMAN Alaska. The local Tlingit people have a rich and beautiful history in Juneau and local artist, Crystal Worl, was commissioned to create the IRONMAN Alaska logo which was also turned into the main design for the official finisher medal and bike kit.

The Local Tlingit tribe members join the athletes in the water as they started the race in a traditional hand-crafted Tlingit canoe during the swim portion of the event and they were there to greet the finish line during the final hours of the race as they lined the finishing chute and performed a traditional celebration.

Comments and social posts from athletes following the event indicate that they and their traveling parties were amazed at the Juneau community’s hospitality for the event, with many noting that locals had offered rides, gear, and more to assist athletes, many of whom said they would register for the 2023 the event as soon as it opened. “Over the event weekend, many athletes told me they’d never seen such kindness and warmth in a race destination,” states Travel Juneau President & CEO, Liz Perry. She went on to note that after the race, many athletes said it was the best IRONMAN they’d participated in and that they couldn’t wait to return to Juneau.

“When I stood on the dock a year ago and looked out over Auke Lake, I knew this was going to be a special experience for athletes. Looking back at the event that was, it is such a fulfilling and rewarding feeling hearing all the feedback from the local community and the athletes,” said Dave Christen, Sr. Regional Director for The IRONMAN Group. “So much work has gone into putting this race together, for athletes, family, and friends to experience America's Final Frontier could not make me prouder. The City and Borough of Juneau have done nothing short of rolling out the red carpet for the IRONMAN community. We had over 1,400 volunteers which is an incredible outpouring of support, and we couldn’t
ask for a more amazing host community and destination event.” Travel Juneau thanks the organizations and agencies that assisted in the planning and execution of the event, including the City & Borough of Juneau’s Parks and Recreation Department, Juneau Police Department, Capital City Fire & Rescue, and the Alaska Department of Transportation. The University of Alaska Southeast hosted the transition, finish line, medical, and operational command venues.

Perry said that Travel Juneau and IRONMAN Alaska organizers plan a thorough debrief of the event in the coming weeks. “We’ll address communications, traffic delays, and other logistics to make this an even better event for 2023.”

Author: Travel Juneau

One of the amazing members of the Travel Juneau staff spent days and days researching and writing this ridiculously awesome post without even stopping for a sip of water or a moment of shut eye. That's okay, we love our visitors so much we feel it was worth it. We hope you enjoy!