This is Part 1 of my IMWI Pro Tips series, where I will discuss different aspects of the race, from the days before all the way through to the finish line! Today we discuss what to expect in the 1-2 days before the race, like the athlete village/expo, athlete check in, gear bag check in, as well as a walk through of how the transition area works.
Athlete Village and Expo – EVENT SCHEDULE
Starting Thursday, September 7th, the Athlete Village and Expo will be open. I advise that if you are able to get there on Thursday, do it! The crowds will be smaller, the lines will be shorter, and you will avoid spending too much time walking around too close to the race start. This whole race is an experience, so I suggest you experience the expo and the atmosphere that goes with the excitement of the upcoming race, however I also suggest limiting the amount of time you spend on your feet. There will be different vendors promoting nutrition products, recovery tools, new and improved equipment, etc. This is all cool stuff to check out, but remember – Nothing new on race day!! You can also stop into the Trek Stores Madison Expo area for any last minute tech needs or spare tube/co2 stock, but be sure you have your bike tuned up well before the 2-3 days before the race. In fact, if you haven’t already, I suggest giving your LBS a call to schedule a tune up for 1-2 weeks before race day.
This also opens Thursday, and while you’re there you may as well get checked in! You will need your ID and proof of your USAT Membership, unless you plan to purchase a 1 day license. The process is pretty streamlined and will include a weigh in for medical purposes, all of your gear bags, numbers, swim cap, timing chip, and some SWAG! The earlier you get this done the more time you will have to prepare all of your gear for Sunday.
It never hurts to attend the athlete race briefings. You will see on the event schedule there are a few planned throughout the weekend. Try to time your expo experience to include one of the briefings. This will answer any of your questions about the course, last minute changes, logistics, etc. You may learn something new, you may not… however it won’t hurt to go over the course again. I will have a post in this series that covers the course and some of the topics that are covered in the race briefings as well.
I suggest going to this on Friday night, especially if it’s your first IMWI. This whole race is an experience and I think this is another positive and inspiring aspect to the pre-race IM build up. The food is standard pasta usually, nothing special. But there are some guest speakers as well as a motivational video or 2 to get you fired up!
During the weekend there will be some buoys out and plenty of athletes in wetsuits pre swimming portions of the course. You certainly can get out and do a nice easy swim (or whatever your coach suggests) before the race. However I would avoid any last minute long distance swims to boost your confidence. Trust the training! The most important aspect of the practice swim is to use the buoys to note other landmarks that will help you sight during the swim. Note where the sun is, look at the skyline and see if any buildings line up with the turn buoys, check the swim in and swim exit. Again, keep this short.
Bike + Gear Bag Check-in
Between 10am and 3pm Saturday you will need to check your bike and gear bags in. I think having them completely packed with everything you need is smart, however you will have access to them again on race morning if you were to forget anything or need to add items. Tires should be inflated on race morning, so no need to bring the bike with 100psi to sit in the sun all day and risk a flat. Make sure your race numbers are on the bike and bags before you go down to check in. Again, I suggest getting in and out with this! Don’t hang around the expo socializing too much in the 24hr before race day. Make the drop off and get back inside!
T1 and T2 at IMWI are pretty amazing, being at the Monona Terrace. However it is a LONG transition zone, where your T1 bag and T2 bags are not near your bike. When you drop off your bags, take a look at where things are at. Walk through the process of the transition. Ask volunteers or the information tent any questions you may have about the flow on race morning. Overall, although the transitions are long they are fairly streamlined and simple. We will discuss in another post ways to keep this simple and save MINUTES on your transition times.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the next post running through the Swim and T1!