Where to watch (or avoid) Ironman Santa Rosa

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While the Ironman triathlon series brings in millions of dollars in tourism spending to Sonoma County and Santa Rosa, it also comes with massive logistical maneuvering for participants and residents going about their normal lives in Wine Country.

Santa Rosa has a webpage and links devoted to helping residents get the most out of the experience, whether you want to watch the action or stay out of the way.

Here are some helpful links for Ironman maps, road closure and detours, bus schedules and parking changes and more:

Spectator guide:

The best place to watch the action is the finish line, near Mendocino Avenue and Fourth Street in Old Courthouse Square. Viewing areas at Lake Sonoma and along the bicycle route will be difficult to get in and out of because of traffic and road closures.

Santa Rosa has partnered with the Waze smartphone app to include real-time traffic updates involving race movement.

Saturday schedule:

About 2,500 athletes begin the race with a 2.4-mile swim starting in Lake Sonoma between 6:40 and 7:10 a.m.

The bike course begins around 8 a.m. and reaches Old Courthouse Square at about 10 a.m.

Ditching their bikes for running shoes, athletes embark on a 26.2-mile marathon along Santa Rosa Creek Trail to Fulton Road and back.

The first runners expected to finish in Old Courthouse Square should arrive around 3 p.m.

Non-professional Ironman athletes will continue to cross the finish line until midnight.

Ironman attracts elite athletes from all over the world, the state and locally.

• Athletes are traveling from 44 states (917 from California) and 49 countries (1,799 from the U.S.)

• The youngest competitor this year is 18-year-old Michael Earl from Montclair, Va.

• Emma Rodriguez from Miami Shores, Fla. is youngest female athlete at 21.

• Steve Musser, of Corte Madera, is the oldest male athlete at age 74.

• 70-year-old Melodie Cronenberg of Henderson, Nev. is oldest female participant.

• Occupations of those racing include: architect, airline pilot, baseball executive, CEO, chef, firefighter, football executive, musician, nurse, police officer, radio personality, scientist, student and writer.


Former Santa Rosa resident Lars Tandrup, 51, who was burned in the 2017 Tubbs fire, will run with his friend Steven Chan, 55, of Novato. Tandrup and his wife, Ulla, escaped in burning pajamas, with their dog, from their Mark West Springs Road home early on Oct. 9, 2017. They were both hospitalized with major burns. Tandrup has funneled his family’s tragedy to his competitive mindset.

U.S. Marine Maj. John Watkins will race to raise money for the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit agency that raises awareness and funds for research for the cancer that primarily affects infants and toddlers. Watkins and his wife, Jayshree, are honoring the memory of their 10-month-old daughter Amelia, who died eight days after her neuroblastoma diagnosis. Donations for their fundraiser can be made at

Emily Ali, 29, of Dallas, is competing to raise awareness of the chronic disease lupus. After beating cancer, Ali continued to lose her hair and had painful rashes all over her body. A biopsy showed she had lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks normal, healthy cells and tissue. Ali was inspired to do things she would have never imagined she could do, and now wants to bring awareness to the struggles of those with chronic illnesses and to be a motivator for others.

Kevin Barda, 51, of Apple Valley was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when he was 14, is a cancer survivor and has been living with just one kidney for 10 years. Once told he would never be able to walk, he earned an athletic scholarship for track and field and earned NCAA All-Region honors. Having turned 50, Barda will now complete in an Ironman.

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