Athletes, organizers prep for triple-digit heat at Coeur d’Alene Ironman

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — A lot of us will struggle in the heat next weekend, but none more so than the athletes competing in IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene.

They’ll battle a 1.2-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run—all in triple-digit heat.

That’s why organizers are stepping up the medical response for this weekend.

“When it’s hot, obviously it’s a lot more taxing on the athletes,” said medical tent coordinator, Stan Foster.

These athletes will travel a total of 140 miles through the water, on the bike and on foot. If they don’t finish in under 17 hours, they don’t make the cut to be called an Ironman.

So what, exactly, inspires someone to do something like this?

“Last summer, sitting on dad’s porch with the wife, having a beer and… they brought back Ironman, the full Ironman,” said first-time competitor Zach Keiser.

It’s a return to the big race after several years of just the half Ironman, which means more miles—and a lot more preparation.

“I’ve grown up in the area and I’ve seen this event go on every single year, and when my dad told me they were bringing back the full, I was like ‘Why not? Let’s do it,’” said Keiser.

Six days out, Zach Keiser feels ready.

“I’m from Boise, came up for the week, obviously in advance, just to run, ride the course, swim,” said Keiser.

It’s estimated over 90% of the athletes are from out of town. And when they signed up, they saw an average air temperature of 75 degrees.

But it has certainly been hotter on this course.

“Back in 2015, it was 105 degrees that day.”

That year, a quarter of the 2,000 athletes competing came through the medical tent.

“It was just kind of like a mass unit,” said Foster. “There was bodies everywhere.”

Foster is a medical director this year, but he’s raced before and for his first go-around, it was 98 degrees.

“You can’t really prepare for 100-plus and doing an Ironman race,” said Foster.

Locals say the vibe around town is totally different for the full marathon, so for the spectators, it’s set to be a fun weekend.

“That’s it! First-time Ironman so it’s going to be fun. We’ll see how it goes,” said Keiser.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene has upped the ante with more medical equipment, medical staff and medical tents on the course. Organizers are still hoping for and looking for some volunteers, so if you’d like to get involved, visit the Ironman Coeur d’Alene website.