12 Best Viewing Spots for the IRONMAN North American Championship

Visit The Woodlands

Written by Visit The Woodlands
On April 1, 2019 at 3:23 PM

  • Exercise
  • IRONMAN
  • Race
  • Triathlon

It’s not every day that you will get the chance to see people competing in an IRONMAN competition. The Woodlands will host the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship on Saturday, April 25 where athletes will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles all in one day. The number one reason athletes say they love this event in The Woodlands is crowd support along the way. Cheering fans really does give an athlete motivation and encouragement.

THEY NEED YOU!
We’ve narrowed down the best places for fans to watch the race – divided into race categories.

SWIM

2.4 miles, one loop
The swim begins at North Shore Park and ends in the canal at Town Green Park.

  1. Lake Woodlands Pkwy Bridge (just east of North Shore Park) – This area will give you a great view of the lake and the swimmers.
  2. Hughes Landing Parking Garage – Bring your binoculars for this spot, but it’s still a high vantage point to see the start of the swim portion of the race. Plus, you can walk over to various points in the race from here.
  3. The Canal Between Lake Woodlands – This is near the swim finish and is best accessed from the stairs down to the waterway off Grogan’s Mill.  
  4. The North Side of Town Green Park – If you watch from here, you can see the transition from swim to bike. It’s fun to see the volunteers helping the participants quickly move from one portion to the other. There’s a lot of action here!

See athletes as they exit the water and transition into the bike portion at Town Green Park.

BIKE
112 miles, out and back on route twice.

  1. North Shore Park – The bike route starts in The Woodlands, heads down Lake Robbins Drive, down Grogan’s Mill and then out to Hardy Toll Road. North Shore Park is a good place for families and kids to watch the race.
  2. Along Lake Robbins Drive – The streets and neighborhoods are heavily congested during the bike portion of the event. In order to avoid getting stuck out on the course, the best option for the bike start and finish is along Lake Robbins. 
  3. Spring Stuebner and Interstate 45 – If you want to get further away from the action, this is a good location to grab lunch and watch the race. Bikers will wind through this area during the first half of the bike race.
  4. Hardy Toll Road – The bikers say they really enjoy the open route of Hardy Toll Road in this race. Venturing out and parking along Hardy Toll Road will give you the opportunity to see athletes sailing at top speeds on the open course.

If you’re watching from the Six Pines bridge near Lake Robbins, you may feel a “whoosh” as athletes rush past you. Photo by Derrick Bryant.

RUN
26.2 miles, 3 loop course.

Runners will go down Lake Woodlands Drive, Woodlands Parkway, towards the Mall and then back around.

  1. Market Street – This is a good spot to cheer on the runners! Remember, there are many road closures so the best locations to enter Market Street are along Lake Woodlands Drive, Six Pines Drive and Grogans Mill Road.
  2. South Shore Park – This park has plenty of water fountains, gazebos and covered areas to hang out and watch the runners during the race.
  3. Westin Hotel – Get a great view from high above if you have a chance to watch from the Westin.
  4. Waterway Square – This is the finish line for the entire event! There are also many restaurant options nearby. You will likely see all sorts of emotions from the athletes who have accomplished something HUGE!!

Runners are PUMPED as they cross the finish line, high fives all around at Waterway Square. Photo by Derrick Bryant.

A FEW OTHER VIEWING TIPS: 

To help you plan your viewing spots, check out this traffic impact map for details on road closures and impact times.

You could get a seriously up-close view of the race by volunteering. Sign Up here!

The race starts around 6:25 a.m. The elite participants may finish in a 7-8 hour window but for others, it could take 12+ hours to complete. So, there will be plenty of time for you to see someone in action on the course! The course will officially close at 12 midnight.

Photo by Derrick Bryant

ENHANCING THE ATHLETE EXPERIENCE:
At the end of each race, participants are allowed to vote in the Athletes’ Choice Awards, (here we come to brag a little bit). The Woodlands race was selected as 9th in Run Course and 10th in Best-Race Celebrations out of 41 IRONMAN series events!

These rankings are on a global scale, which speaks volumes for The Woodlands, its hospitality and what an amazing destination it is. This year, we challenge all of you to come out and support these Ironmen (and women), by giving them the loudest and most memorable IRONMAN North American Championship yet!

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