Supportive Chicks: How to Spectate an Ironman

The big race is in 7 sleeps, and taper time is in full swing! My lovely partner has been nervously checking over his bike, fiddling with gel’s and talks a lot about vegemite sandwiches. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of Ironman, because it is an amazing sport! Though to be perfectly honest with you, the thought of a full Ironman gives me tingles. Tingles of excitement, anticipation and blatant fear.

A comment like “let’s train for a full Ironman next year” is not a comment I would jump in and say yes to without some lengthy consideration. It’s a long time in the water, it’s a long time on the saddle, and 42km’s is not a walk in the park.

Olympic distance triathlons are comparable to a standard chocolate cake, something that can be whipped together at the last minute with limited resources. A full Ironman on the other hand, requires a carefully considered shopping list, and a trip to the shops to assemble the intricate, teared, decorated master piece of a cake. I lost my shopping list in the super market yesterday… So I am clearly not ready to be the full Ironman athlete! Though my partner is, and that puts me in the role of spectator and supportive girlfriend.

Supportive girlfriend and spectator are things I have done in the past at heaps of races (I try to be a supportive girlfriend every other day as well not just on race days!!), though Ironman half and full distances are different for athletes AND spectators. Here’s some tips on how you can be the best prepared spectator at your next ironman!



Know the course 

Know where the swim start and exit is. Where they start and finish the ride and run. The transition area is always a good place to be, so know your athlete and try and see them while they are transitioning between goggles, wheels and shoes.

swim start
Thumbs up! We found the Swim Start! See you in 10 hours!

Remember that they have been out there riding for 5-6 hours on their own, seeing you there at the dismount line would mean the world to them. Cheer for them, tell them they are doing really well, looking strong, and most important that they can do it so keep it up!

swim to bike
Know where their bike is in transition so you can cheer them on for their ride. It’s optional whether you tell them about the ocean ‘stuff’ that ends up on their faces!

The run! This is where you will usually see your favourite athlete the most, and where they need the most support, so know the course well. Get out on the course somewhere away from the crowds and cheer for them out there. Thats where they (not only your athlete, but all of the others too), need a cheer of support and encouragement.

Transition is a great place to cheer them on before they head out for any leg of their race. Be encouraging and supportive.

Know your athlete

Know their times for each leg, know their race number, and download Ironman Trackr! Add your athlete in and follow them all day (stalker much!). This will ensure you don’t miss them at the dismount line, or even worse the finishing shoot!!!

* Note: Your phone is going to go flat at some stage during the race – make sure you think about charging it somehow or having a spare battery.

What to wear

This is not an event for high heels, or thongs. Its time to get super comfortable. So get that active wear on! With these races going from 9-11 hours long, you need running shoes with good support and socks! Rain jackets, jumpers, hats, sunscreen and layers are all a good idea. Remember that most athletes finish at night.

Pretty much sums up Ironman spectating…


The last Ironman race I watched, I forgot to eat. I was so caught up with spectating that I simply forgot. Make sure that you pack some snacks, and a water bottle. If you are like me (somewhat food orientated), then you will be thinking about what you will have for dinner when your athlete finishes, while they are out there on the run course somewhere.

Down time 

In long course races, the ride is so long that it allows you with a few hours up your sleeve to do as you please! A little kip back at your hotel, recharge your phone, then slip down to a cafe for lunch, and coffees with other spectating friends is the perfect way to fill in those long ride times.

Feeling guilty when sitting out on the run course? And all you are doing is spectating? Opps…


Spectating these long races is tough work!! Don’t be hard on yourself. Take a seat, read a book, and enjoy a coffee. Think about what you would like to grab for dinner once they are finished their race. Just because your athlete is slogging it out, doesn’t mean you have to as well! And remember to enjoy, be positive and supportive, its a long day for you and them, its an emotional and physical rollercoaster. A rollercoaster that I hope you both enjoy!!


the end
Sean and I at the finishing shoot of his first Ironman last year.


Happy racing, and spectating xxx 

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