August 8, 2022
Juneau, Alaska plays host to the first full-distance IRONMAN triathlon in the Northernmost State in the U.S.
JUNEAU, Alaska /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Alaska, the Northernmost State in the U.S., and its capital city of Juneau, played host to the inaugural IRONMAN Alaska triathlon on Sunday, August 7 as part of the VinFast IRONMAN U.S. Series. Approximately 1,000 athletes traveled far and wide from 46 States and 30 countries, regions, and territories for the truly unique IRONMAN Alaska triathlon experience.
“When I stood on the dock a year ago and looked out over Auke Lake, I knew this was going to be a special experience for athletes. Now standing here today, I could not be more excited about being in Juneau and seeing the energy from the athletes enjoying what I saw a year ago – it is such a fulfilling feeling,” said Dave Christen, Sr. Regional Director for The IRONMAN Group. “So much work has gone into putting this race together, and to be here to finally see it happening as these athletes experience America’s Final Frontier could not make me more excited. The City and Borough of Juneau have done nothing short of rolling out the red carpet for the athletes. We had over 1,400 volunteers which is an incredible outpouring of support, and we couldn’t ask for a more amazing host community and destination event.”
The inaugural full-distance IRONMAN event in Alaska truly featured the terrain and landscape of Juneau. Due to 56-degree water temperatures and associated safety regulations, athletes began with a shortened 1.2 mile one-loop swim in the beautiful spring fed Auke Lake, with breathtaking views of the evergreen tree forests and mountain range in the distance. Once out of the water and on the bike for their 112-mile ride, athletes headed north on Glacier highway until the road ends 28 miles from Auke Lake. The two-loop bike course skirted the edge of the stunning coastlines and lush green forests that Juneau has to offer and is known for. For the final portion of the journey, the 26.2-mile run course utilized two historic trails in the area that include Montana Creek, as well as a loop around Auke Lake using the Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail to get back to transition and onto their second lap. Athletes were welcomed back onto the campus of University of Alaska Southeast with roaring cheers by family, friends, and Alaskan locals as they made their way down the finishing chute.
In his fifth ever full-distance IRONMAN triathlon, Alex Whetman from Riverton, Utah was the 2022 IRONMAN Alaska triathlon winner with an overall time of 9:11:17. “The first loop I rode super hard to catch the front then the second loop I sat at distance on the guy in first then I put a dig in and built up a 10 to 12-minute lead and somehow extended on the run,” said Whetman. “When I saw this race, I knew that I wanted to do it cause I knew it would be a cooler marathon. The [Juneau Community] was amazing. Everyone was following along on the [IRONMAN Tracker] app, I heard my name no doubt about a thousand times – just the support from everyone was amazing.”
In her fourth ever full-distance IRONMAN triathlon and first in seven years, Liz Cullen from Gibson, British Columbia, Canada was the women’s 2022 IRONMAN Alaska triathlon winner with an overall time of 10:23:03. When asked what brought her out for her first race in seven years, Cullen said, “Alaska. The people sitting out with their firepits and cheering us on all day – they were everywhere. It was amazing!”
Todd Jackson of Anchorage finished 15th overall and was the first Alaskan across the 2022 IRONMAN Alaska finish line with a time of 10:07:04. Todd said on his experience after completing his first full-distance IRONMAN triathlon, “The people were awesome – Juneau really stepped up. It was a really fun day. I really enjoyed the run – it was challenging but it was cool. Some of the hills definitely took a toll but I like the sections through the woods, it was very peaceful. I never thought IRONMAN would come to Alaska but as soon as it was announced I signed up. I knew the weather would probably be crazy but it’s not an IRONMAN if it’s not tough.”
John Bursell was the first athlete from Juneau to cross the finish line. Bursell a veteran of IRONMAN races having completed over 20 said, “This is my favorite. Really the best thing about this race is Juneau. The community support was amazing. The course is amazing, Auke Lake is just a great swim; the water is clean and beautiful. The water was colder at first but then it got warmer – that’s the way it’s been the last few days.”
Not only did Alaskans come out to take on the inaugural race, but local culture and community was an important aspect in the creation of IRONMAN Alaska. The local Tlingit people have a rich and beautiful history in Juneau and local artist, Crystal Worl, was commissioned to create the IRONMAN Alaska logo which was also turned into the main design for the official finisher medal and bike kit.
“I am thrilled to share Tlingit art & cultural values on Áak’w Ḵwáan territory,” said Crystal Worl. “The salmon symbolizes the strength, resilience, and endurance it takes for the journey home to spawn. It is this salmon that brings nitrogen and nutrients from the deep ocean to our land, which has enabled our land to become as lush and green as it is! It is with great honor I am able to create the IRONMAN logo for my hometown Juneau!”
Juneau is unique among the 49 U.S. capitals on mainland North America in that there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of the state nor North America. The absence of a road network is due to the extremely rugged terrain surrounding the city. This in turn makes Juneau a de facto island city in terms of transportation with all goods coming in and out by plane or boat. Downtown Juneau is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island and sits at sea level, below steep mountains about 3,500 to 4,000 feet high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Ptarmigan Glacier, are visible from the local road system.
Juneau’s lively downtown is compact, easy to navigate on foot and always a favorite with guests to visit historic sites, local shops, and pubs. Just a short drive from downtown, one of the city’s most iconic sites sits at the edge of a residential neighborhood: Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier sits within the Tongass National Forest – the largest national forest in the United States. Additionally, whale watching and glacier tours are a popular way to see the diverse marine life in the area.
“Travel Juneau is proud to have hosted IRONMAN Alaska! The Juneau community prepared for this inaugural event for over a year, and it’s brought a great energy to our town and Southeast Alaska. Our partners report that IRONMAN Alaska has brought a tremendous benefit to their businesses. It’s also helped position Juneau as a great place to live, play, train, and compete,” said says Liz Perry, Travel Juneau President & CEO.
The 2022 IRONMAN Alaska triathlon offered 45 qualifying slots to the 2022 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship taking place in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on October 6 & 8, 2022. Official results can be found at www.ironman.com/im-alaska-results.
The 2023 IRONMAN Alaska triathlon as part of the VinFast IRONMAN U.S. Series returns on August 6, 2023, with general registration for the event opening on Aug. 15, 2022. The event will offer qualifying slots to the two-day 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship® in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on Oct. 12 &14, 2023.
For more information on the IRONMAN Alaska triathlon, visit www.ironman.com/im-alaska. For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com. Media related inquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Travel Juneau
Formed in 1985, Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau, doing business as Travel Juneau, markets Alaska’s capital city to conventions, groups, and independent travelers. The organization is dedicated to its partners in the visitor industry and to the value that travel brings to our community. Travel Juneau benefits from the natural beauty and wildlife of the Tongass National Forest as well as Juneau’s geographically remote location. Valued industry partnerships include the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) and the Southeast Alaska Tourism Council (SATC). More information can be found at www.traveljuneau.com.
The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN®Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN®70.3®Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN®Virtual Racing™ (VR™) Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll®Running Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Running™ Series,IRONKIDS®, World Triathlon Championship Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and City2Surf®, UTMB® World Series events includingTaraweraUltra and Ultra-Trail Australia™, Epic Series™ mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, road cycling events including Haute Route®, and othermultisport races. The IRONMAN Group is the largest operator of mass participation sports in the world andprovidesmore than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Since theinceptionof the iconic IRONMAN®brand and its first event in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE®by crossing finish lines around the world. Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with hundreds of events across 55+ countries. The IRONMAN Group is owned by Advance, a private, family-owned business. For more information, visitwww.ironman.com/about-ironman-group.
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