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Ironman back with major changes to 2021 course

Ironman Lake Placid triathletes arrive at the bike transition/finish line area on the Olympic Speedskating Oval to make sure their equipment is ready before the 2014 race. Competitors typically arrived here before getting numbers drawn on their bodies with markers on Main Street and heading to the swim start at the Mirror Lake beach. (Staff photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Ironman Lake Placid, one of the longest-running sports traditions in this village, will return on Sunday, July 25, but with a different look, after taking 2020 off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are basically creating a whole new race in comparison to what we had for 20-plus years,” Ironman Lake Placid Race Director Greg Borzilleri said.

Due in part to the ongoing construction at the Olympic Speedskating Oval on Main Street — the traditional site of the Ironman athlete’s village, bike transition and finish line — Ironman Lake Placid has adjusted its course.

“There are construction issues with town,” Ironman Regional Race Director Scott Langen said. “We have looked to adjust appropriately.”

An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim on Mirror Lake, 112-mile bike ride around the region, and a 26.2-mile run in and around the village of Lake Placid.

Construction workers overhaul the Olympic Speedskating Oval in June, making it impossible to host the bike transition and finish line for the 2021 Ironman Lake Placid triathlon. Instead, the bike transition will be held at Northwood School, and the finish line will be on Main Street in front of the oval. (Provided photo — ORDA)

According to Borzilleri, the start at the municipal beach will stay similar to other years, but there will be a couple of major differences once athletes leave the water. Instead of making two 1.2-mile laps on Mirror Lake, being stripped of their body suits with the help of volunteers afterward and then running to the Olympic Speedskating Oval for the bike transition, athletes will leave the water at the Northwood School beach on Mirror Lake Drive and run to the bike transition at the school.

Borzilleri said, the bike course is going to be relatively the same, but it will have some minor changes. The athletes will now go from Mirror Lake Drive to Main Street after the first of two laps instead of traveling behind the post office and the high school on the way to the second lap.

The run course has changed since 2019.

“The bulk of the course is going to be below the traffic light (at the top of Mill Hill),” Borzilleri said. “In the past, the runners would have to come up past the traffic light on Mill Hill and go out on Mirror Lake Drive to finish their first loop.”

This year, the runners only have to come up the hill at the very end of the running course.

After being interviewed by Mike Reilly, “The Voice of Ironman,” an emotional Matt Russell is greeted by his wife Gillian Forman Russell and their son Makaio following his victory in the 2019 Ironman Lake Placid triathlon. (Staff photo — Lou Reuter)

The athletes will run through the North Elba Show Grounds around four times throughout the course of the race. The show grounds will also host the athlete check-in, Ironman village and merchandise tent. All three had previously been held at the oval.

After completing Ironman, the athletes will cross the finish line on Main Street in front of the oval. Previously, finishers of Ironman, were greeted by friends, family and even spectators on the oval.

“It’s going to be pretty crowded,” Borzilleri said. “We understand that photos are going to be a big part of this. We are going to try and set up so there is a good look for the finish line.”

Langen expects that around 2,000 athletes will compete in Ironman this year. In 2019, almost 3,000 athletes were signed up for the race, and 2,068 people finished. Some athletes who register don’t start the race, and some who start don’t finish.

“We are looking forward to having a fantastic event,” Langen said. “Lake Placid is one of our longest standing events within the Ironman circuit. We have protocols in place, a lot of the protocols have changed so we are adapting accordingly.”

Women’s professional champion Tereza Macel, center, is flanked by runner-up Caitlin Snow, right, and third-place finisher Samantha McGlone, as they guzzle champagne during their post-race celebration near the finish line at the 2009 Ironman Lake Placid triathlon. (Staff photo — Lou Reuter)

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