Ironman Wisconsin registration was very stressful, namely because there were 5 of us trying to get in, and by all accounts only had a two-hour-window.  Frankly, it was a rush.  Louisville has been open for a while, standing seductively in the corner, seducing me with her mini skirt and high heels.  This one took several months, but I finally made my move.

The Louisville process was much different, but just as satisfying.  I was pretty sure it wouldn’t sell out for a while, but you never know, and the first time I hit “register” I was rejected.  This was evidently because I took too long, but it made my heart leap.

The reaction to my enrollment was supportive, but nothing like the first one.  In fact, this is the response from a text message I sent to a friend back home.


I had to laugh and sent it out as a tweet.  Ironman felt my pain and shared it with their followers.


I struggled with this decision for months.  It never felt quite right, but some part of me craved Louisville.  I’ve watched it twice and it was ultimately the reason I signed up for Wisconsin in the first place.  I’ve seen many men and women buckle under the tough conditions and I had to be sure I was mentally ready for this fight.

A few things pulled it together for me and, at least for now, it seems like “10 Days of Rest” was the catalyst.  More than anything, it “took away” my workouts and rekindled a love for the game.

That spark triggered a lot of different emotions and forced me slow down and reflect.  I couldn’t just “hide” in a long run or the pool.  I was naked with my thoughts and my body wanted to move.  I just had to decide how far.

Wisconsin captivated my mind and body for 365 days.  The mass swim start alone kept me up many a night.  I grew up in Wisconsin, but Wisconsin took on a whole new meaning.  It was a beast I wasn’t sure I could tame and was never quite sure until I crossed the finish line.

Louisville is more like a spiritual quest.  Accepting the journey as balance and integrity for my soul. The virgin glow is gone and now I have to commit to love.


Below are some statistical comparisons from each race.  I spent a year focused on Wisconsin, now the energy will be directed at dissecting Louisville.

Both are ranked as two of the tougher Ironman courses on the circuit if you go by average finish time.  Here is a graph from 2012 results (all info from that shows Louisville as the 3rd toughest and Wisconsin the 5th (excluding Kona).

Toughest Easiest Ironman Triathlon 2012 Rankings Shaded by Raymond Britt

Here are the breakouts from last year by average split time for the swim, bike, run and transitions.  In my limited knowledge I feel like Wisconsin must be one of the more difficult swims, and certainly last year’s conditions made it slower than usual.  But it’s wetsuit legal, while Louisville’s not, and that poses a different sort of problem.

The bike times were almost identical and I fully expect Louisville to be a tough ride.  According to Ironman course maps, Louisville’s total gain is listed at 5,375 feet, while Wisconsin only shows 2,890, which sounds a little fishy, but who am I to argue?  These Map My Ride profiles show Louisville’s gain at 1811 feet and Wisconsin at 3381.

Ironman has the Louisville run gain at 352 and Wisconsin at 482.   I feel like Louisville is overestimated again and Wisconsin’s run is harder, except for one major factor, the heat.  We had perfect weather in Madison last year, low 70’s with overcast skies.  I fully expect Louisville to peak around 90.  No matter how I slice these pies, it’s gonna be tough.

Ironman Wisconsin 2013 Average Splits -- Finish Time = 13-20 by Raymond Britt Ironman Louisville 2013 Average Split -- Finish Time = 13-24 by Raymond Britt

I was a little surprised to see that more people race at Louisville.

Registered Entrants by Ironman Event by Raymond Britt

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Ironman Louisville Vs. Wisconsin