Choosing your your 2019 goal race course

Updated: Jul 26, 2019

As we wrap up 2018 now is a great time to start honing in your your 2019 goal race and build up events. For many athletes Carly and I work with the goal event is a marathon, half IRONMAN or IRONMAN. Depending on your goals course selection and timing within the year can be critical. In addition to timing of the goal race we also want time for a couple - not a lot - of build up events to benchmark fitness, race fast, test out gear and put ourselves on the line.

I like to look at course selection for goal events in four ways:

Time goal:

If you are looking for a particular time goal this is where course selection can be critical. You and your coach need to find a course that will work

with your particular strengths. For this type of goal a flatter course with cool temperatures is often the winner.


When going for a Boston qualification we often aim for a spring or fall marathon on a course where temperatures are cool and the course if near flat or a little down hill. For half IRONMAN and IRONMAN the answer get a little more complex and a lot more specific for that athletes needs. When planning a qualification pursuit for IRONMAN your personal strengths need to be evaluated along with how many qualifying slots are available at each race. If you are a strong climber on the bike courses like Lanzarote or Lake Placid should be considered. If you run well in the heat a historically warm course is best for you.

The Challenge:

Looking for a course to push your personal limits? This challenge may involve extreme heat, hills or distance.


Choosing a course based on location, such as a great place to take your family for a holiday after you complete your race or a location that just sounds fun. The great news is that when you work with a coach we can help prepare you for a a great day on any course at any destination.

Build up events are are important when building your race season. As I mention in the opening not a lot of racing is needed when building up to big events, better to spend the time working the specifics of the goal event. Shorter build up races should mirror some aspects of the goal race so you can apply practical race day tactics and test fitness. In addition timing of build up races needs to be considered so the body has proper time for tapering, recovering and building.

As Carly and I build the 2019 season with our athletes we consider all of the above to ensure our athletes have the most successful and fun season possible.