IRONMAN Maryland is fast approaching. This race is centered in the town of Cambridge, Maryland which is a small waterfront town on the eastern side of Maryland. Known as one of the flatter Ironman courses on the circuit, that does not mean this course is easy. Each IRONMAN course presents a unique set of challenges. Breaking down the key components of this race:
The Swim: Most notably the biggest mental and physical challenge of this course is the presence of jellyfish.
While there is no guarantee as to the presence of these, it is important to note that this can be a challenge. In 2021, the jellyfish were present and there was zero option to avoid them during the swim. The day prior to the race, IRONMAN encouraged people to wear wetsuits on race day. It is important to identify if you have an allergy or might have an adverse reaction to this type of sting. I would encourage swimming prior to the actual race. I found the anticipation of getting stung far worse than the actual sting. There was not acute sharp electric sting, rather a mild feeling of sunburn or salt in a cut.
The IRONMAN Maryland swim is a two-loop counterclockwise course. The area of the swim is known as the “chop tank” for a reason as there can be both wind and current on this course. Depending on the conditions, I would encourage athletes to spend some time swimming in windy choppy water during their build for this race.
The water temp is typically wetsuit legal but can be on the border depending on how warm the fall has been. If the water is warmer, the jellyfish will likely be present. This race goes off as a self-seeded event, allowing you to pick where you want to start. If you are on the front end of the swim start, be prepared to merge into the group of swimmers that are beginning when you turn the corner to start your second loop.
The Bike: One word to describe this course. FLAT. There almost no elevation gains on this course. This two-loop course takes you through the Blackwater Reserve and depending on the weather can be fast. Typically, you have a tailwind on the way out and then a headwind on the way back into town.
Worth noting, there is very little shade on this course. The road conditions are in good condition. On the backside of the loop, there is a section of road that has a rumble strip. Just be mindful of this section when racing this course. Special needs is located at the high school at about mile 55 of the bike. Typically, the wind picks up over the course of the day and this is a course that you can ride in aero almost 100% of the time. Worth noting that in the Blackwater Reserve, the wind can come from different directions, so it is not always consistent in the pattern.
The Run: The IRONMAN Maryland run course consists of three loops. As you head out of transition, you immediately run towards town. This course is spectator friendly and filled with plenty of energy from the crowd and volunteers. As you head into town, you do encounter one road that is pavers and requires a little bit of focus on your footing. As you head back towards transition, you run along the water and out towards the most scenic portion of the run course.
The run course also has limited shade. Be prepared to utilize the many aid stations to keep the body both fueled and cooled. As you head back toward transition, you do run through the park on a narrow gravel path. Upon completion of the first loop, you will receive a band, to help keep track of where you are in the marathon. The special needs section of this race is located in Gerry Boyle Park, which is also transition. You can access your bag during the second loop of the course. There are plenty of well stocked aid stations throughout this course.
The Finish: The finish of this race gives you a view of the Choptank River Lighthouse. There is great crowd support near the finish as the run course passes six times. You do finish about one mile from transition. Super helpful, if you can have someone pick up your bike and all of your bags so you do not have to worry about that. There are shuttles that will take you back to the transition area.