Thousands of athletes set for countywide Ironman Santa Rosa race
Ironman Santa Rosa: What you need to know
They’ll race a triathlon Saturday. But first, yardwork.
Before competing in the 140.6-mile swim, bike and run, volunteer-minded Ironman Santa Rosa athletes on Thursday helped clean up riparian habitat along Mark West Creek — a stretch of Sonoma County that still bears scars from the deadly 2017 Tubbs fire.
Several dozen volunteers wielded weed-whackers, wheelbarrows, loppers, rakes and shovels under the supervision of Mark West Estates block captains, including Mike Holdner.
Early this week, Holdner was busy collecting landscaping tools for Thursday’s work party.
“When your house burns down, you don’t have lawn tools,” he said. “It’s really cool that Ironman is reaching out. They specifically wanted to work in a burned neighborhood. Everything else costs us money, because we don’t have insurance for all this stuff. So this is a pretty big step. Everyone is very thankful that we’ve got this opportunity.”
Beyond the volunteer outreach, Ironman organizers have been busy this week finalizing road closures that will extend Saturday from Lake Sonoma through Wine Country off Chalk Hill Road and into downtown Santa Rosa. They’ve also been checking in the nearly 2,500 athletes that will compete in the full-distance race.
“That’s an increase year over year,” said race director Dave Reid.
This year marks the third race under the Ironman Santa Rosa banner, and the fourth since the Florida-based World Triathlon Corp. — owned by a Chinese sports events conglomerate — took over the popular, homegrown Vineman triathlon series.
“More folks are hearing about it and wanting to participate in the event,” said Reid. “We’re excited about that.”
Activities began midweek in Old Courthouse Square with the Ironman Village of tents and shops and will continue through Sunday with 9:30 a.m. awards ceremonies.
The city of Santa Rosa has devoted extensive space on its website to detailing the event schedule and its effects throughout town, particularly road closures, traffic detours, parking availability and city bus schedule changes.
The city is working with the smartphone app Waze to offer real-time traffic updates that residents can consult before heading out on Saturday, when the race will be active all day.
The best place to watch the action will be the downtown finish line near Fourth Street and Mendocino Avenue. Traffic near Lake Sonoma will be busy and organizers warn drivers will face delays early in the morning as athletes arrive before dawn and as they depart on their bicycles later in the morning.
“The footprint of the event in terms of the streets and roads we’re traversing in the city and county are unchanged,” Reid said. “We’re maintaining the same footprint out in the community, so hopefully with that will keep people familiar with how to get around on race day.”
Residents received notices in their water bills this month and city officials have posted often about the race on social media, but if history is any indication, many residents will be caught off-guard with the road closures and detours Saturday.
“We always strive to partner with the local community and make it feel like we’re coming in and being respectful,” Reid said. The half-distance Ironman Santa Rosa 70.3 is scheduled for July 27.