They’re baaaaack. The Iron people that is. If you are in the northeastern Adirondacks right now, welcome to the region’s busiest week of the year — Ironman week.
Ironman hopefuls and their entourages are everywhere today in and around Lake Placid, New York, home to what is arguably the best and most challenging Ironman course in the continental United States. About 2,600 competitors will jump in pristine Mirror Lake bright and early this Sunday morning to kick off what is certain to be a long and tough day of competition.
Ironman Lake Placid is not merely a grueling, one-day event. Days before the first competitors don their wetsuits and jump in the lake, there are a kid’s race and pre-race meeting, fun run, pancake breakfast, athlete registration, athlete briefing(s), bike and gear check-in, and entertaining events, cocktail parties, and dinners for sponsor representatives and VIPs. A centerpiece of the action is the Ironman Village, set up on the Olympic speed skating oval, where one can buy all the Ironman-logoed and other triathlon merchandize imaginable, including multiple varieties of belts to carry goopy food.
The influx of thousands of people to this tiny mountain Village for nearly a week has consequences. Main Street in Lake Placid is a nightmare to navigate due to throngs of sinewy, spandex-clad distracted pedestrians who step into the bumper-to-bumper lines of cars whenever the idea to cross the street seizes them. The frustrated drivers who risk Main Street must dodge the walkers, runners, and the people who decide to ride their bike through the mess. Crowded, long lines at stores, gas stations, and restaurants rival those at Rockefeller Center in December.
On Sunday, event day, expect heavy traffic and delays on New York State Routes 9N, 73, and 86 and throughout the communities of Lake Placid, Wilmington, Keene, Jay, Upper Jay, and AuSable Forks, all day long. Driving around, or in and out of the Village of Lake Placid will be close to impossible for most of the day.
Adirondackers who are over the Ironman jazz and are not supporting a competitor know how to avoid the ruckus. Most locals have learned to cope the way people who are stuck indoors with cranky toddlers on a rainy day manage – just get through it. They plan ahead and have all necessary supplies at hand. For people who live on the race course, it is like preparing for a snowstorm – do we have enough toilet paper and
For those of us who seek solitude and the outdoors these days, the wonderful Adirondack Mountains do not disappoint. There are plenty of places to hike where not a soul or Iron person can be found, but you won’t read about them here.