If you're going to do an Ironman-distance triathlon and you live in Chicago, Ironman Wisconsin is the closest. Held in Madison, Wis., in early September, it's close enough to the city to train on the course at least once before race day (perfect since Chicago triathletes don't exactly train on hills when we're riding the lakefront), and it draws plenty of fan support from the Midwest metropolis.
The race, which was held on Sunday, September 8, this year, offers a 140.6-mile course that highlights some of Madison's finest sites. It starts with a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Monona, one of the two lakes that creates the Madison isthmus. Triathletes exit the water and run up a helix that takes them inside Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center to prepare for the bike in the first transition. The bike course stretches across Madison's surrounding countryside with plenty of climbing, corn fields and communities. And the run course follows a two-loop circuit past the Wisconsin State Capitol and around the University of Wisconsin campus. With a backdrop of the Capitol's dome, triathletes hear announcer Mike Reilly shout, "You are an Ironman!"
Sometimes seeing is believing, especially when it comes to understanding how Madison hosts this world-class event every year since 2002. While watching the race in person might be the best option for seeing it all, pictures work too. Here are 10 highlights of the 2013 Ironman Wisconsin course from start to finish.