The Ironman 70.3 World Championship race is actually located in the Henderson and Lake Las Vegas areas and not near the strip. This means you will need to have a car to get to and from the airport as well as to get around race day, especially since transition areas T1 and T2 are in separate locations. We are not aware of any shuttles. This makes the race a bit more challenging to spectate than others, to say the least. You will want to scope out the venue ahead of time as well as possible parking options, so that you are prepared and not left scrambling on race day.
There is adequate field parking close to the swim start, but be prepared for traffic in and out of the area, especially as people start to exit after the swim and head to the T2/finish line venue for the rest of the race. We have heard that people who parked closer to the village got stuck until all the bikes were out, so seriously, if you need to drive to the start of the race, check this out beforehand. There are lots across the street from the finish line/expo area and we heard people also parked down the road at the Whole Foods.
Big point – be prepared for a very hot and relentlessly sun-baked day, with shade in short supply. We are talking full on desert here in early September – it’s Vegas baby! Water, hats, and sunscreen will be crucial to survival – literally!
All that said, here are our spectator recommendations:
1. Swim Start: The bridge has the best viewing, but get there early and stake your spot as everyone else likes this location too! Your athlete will be able to see you gazing down at them before they start, if you are lucky enough to get a front row spot.
2. Swim Finish/Bike Out: After they take off on the swim, position yourself along the swim-out path (they have a rather long run from the water into the T1 area) and after cheering there, you are able to run and catch them on the bike-out as well.
3. Bike Course: Now it is time to drive to the T2/finish line area for the rest of your day. There is really no opportunity to see them again until they are coming in from the bike leg, so you have time to navigate there and set up for the rest of the race. That said, for the adventurous, we know people have driven into Lake Mead Park to see the cyclists, as it’s open to traffic during the race. There is a fee to enter, but the scenery is gorgeous. Again, check this out beforehand if it appeals to you.
4. Bike In/Run Out: We like to cheer them in at the bike-in area and then if you are quick, you can also catch them at the run-out.
5. Run Course/Finish Line: From here on, you will have the opportunity to see your triathlete many times, since it is a 3 loop run course. There are some grassy areas with shade on the south side of the run course outside of T2. The best viewing spot is just up from the finish line on the road behind it. Your biggest challenge, though, will be not to overheat, since there is little to no shade anywhere in this area! I swear this is the only race I’ve ever seen where they literally hose down the racers during part of the run. The athletes will go out and back on this road several times and on their last loop, it is just a short walk to the finish line to see them victorious. Yeah!!
6. Places To Stay: We found it best to stay either in one of the Lake Las Vegas hotels near the swim start and all Ironman ceremonies or in Henderson near the expo/finish line. We stayed at the Westin Lake Las Vegas, which also has several decent restaurants and there is also the Hilton Lake Las Vegas. There are several Marriott Suites in Henderson. Staying in Las Vegas is certainly an option, but you will add to your travel time considerably for race day and other race activities and dinners/award events. There are also many options including condo rentals and less expensive motels around Henderson.
7. Things To Do In the Area: Well, this IS Las Vegas so casinos abound if that’s your thing. But, if not, there are many places to visit for outdoor activities:
- Hoover Dam – 20 miles
- Bryce National Park – 284 miles
- Grand Canyon – 264 miles
- Death Valley – 133 miles
- Mount Charleston – 58 miles; hiking and camping
- Lake Mead National Recreational Area – 5 miles
- Las Vegas strip – 20 minutes
- Red Rock Canyon – 40 miles; hiking and biking
- Valley of Fire State Park; hiking and sightseeing
- Boulder City – historical interest; very close to Hoover Dam
- Lake Las Vegas has a big marina and offers a variety of watersports, including paddle boat rentals and boat rides
Lake Las Vegas, itself, has a village-style marketplace (actually known as The Village) with various eating establishments and shops. I have to say that last year, many of the shops were empty and until the athletes arrived, it was very quiet, including the casino. Henderson has several large malls with many chain stores such as Coach, Forever 21, Brookstone, etc.
8. Food: Lake Las Vegas has various eating establishments and one Italian restaurant that I remember, Luna Rosa. Henderson has the typical chains such as Cheesecake Factory, PF Changs, Panera, etc. as well as local restaurants of all types. There is a Whole Foods near the expo for stocking up on goodies and nutrition that you didn’t pack along.
Well, that’s it for now. We will be sure to send other suggestions as they come up and updates as we move closer to the event. I will be “on site” for this race as a very proud TriMomma (TriHubby is injured and sitting this one out this year), so look for live race venue coverage . . . and also some interesting observations of how well the TriHubby transitions from the Sport of Triathlon to the Sport of Spectating! Welcome to my world dear…..
– THE TRIWIVES
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.