Eagleman

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman: A Guide for Triathletes

Julie United States 14 Comments

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman is a big race for a small town. This half Ironman distance race is one of the longest running Ironman sanctioned 70.3 events, with triathletes competing since 1996.

This is a race that draws competitors from not just across the USA but from around the world. In 2016, athletes from 45 states and 53 countries were present. Not bad for a small town race in Maryland!

So, Why Race Eagleman?

What keeps attracting athletes to Eagleman? The swim in the warm waters of the Choptank River, the flat bike course through the Blackwater Refuge, and a flat run course through the residential areas around Cambridge, Maryland. It is a scenic course and triathletes love the fact that it is fast and flat.

One of the best things about Eagleman is the field of professional athletes that compete in this race. Craig Alexander, Mirinda Carfrae, TJ Tollackson, and Andy Potts are just a few of the legendary athletes who have raced here.

What is it really like?

Tim and I have been racing Eagleman since 2009. Here is what we have learned (and experienced).

The 1.2 mile swim in the Choptank River is warm, usually about 75°F (24°C). There have been several years in recent history when the water was so warm that it was not wetsuit legal. There is not much of a current on the swim, since it takes place in a somewhat protected cove in the river.

The bike course is notoriously windy. Yes, it is a flat 56 miles, but expect to have long stretches where the wind will be in your face. These winds make the bike course more challenging than many first time triathletes racing Eagleman expect it to be.

The run is 13.1 miles with very little shade. The normal temperature for Cambridge in mid-June is 85°F (29°C). I do not know what it is about race weekend, but temperatures almost always seem to spike into the  low to mid 90’s (34°C). Most athletes will be running at midday, during the worst heat of the day.

Takeaway: Expect Eagleman to be hot and windy. Because of these conditions, the race can be deceptively challenging.

Weekend Race Schedule

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman takes place during the second weekend in June. As early as Friday afternoon athletes can check-in for the race at Sailwinds Park. Mandatory bike check-in is on Saturday between the hours of 10 am to 5 pm at Great Marsh Park. The Eagleman race takes place on Sunday morning, with athletes dropping their gear off at transition during the early morning hours. The race officially begins at 6:45 am. You can see the full schedule here.

Both Sailwinds Park and Great Marsh Park are located on the Choptank River in Cambridge, Maryland.

Photos From Race Day

Sunrise on the Choptank River.

Choptank River Sunrise

Aerial View of Transition (photo from 2010 although not much has changed since then).

Aerial View Eagleman Transition

Transition before the start of the race.

Eagleman Transition

Awaiting the start of the race.

Waiting for Swim

Swim start.

Eagleman Swim Start

Final stretch of the swim.

Eagleman Swim

Patrick  McKeon, professional triathlete, in transition.

Patrick McKeon

Female pro triathletes.

Lauren Capone

Cody Beals returning to transition. Cody was the winner of the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman.

Cody Beals

Finish line.

Eagleman Finish Line

Professional Triathletes at Eagleman

These photos were taken in 2012. Tim was competing. I was registered for the race but had to sit out because one month prior I broke my left hand while mountain biking in Peru. Sitting on the sidelines had its advantages…I got to photograph the awesome field of professional triathletes in this year’s race.

Mirinda Carfrae. She would become the Ironman World Champion in 2013 and 2014.

Mirinda Carfrae

Mirinda in transition.

Mirinda Carfrae Bike

Pro bikes in transition.

Pro Bikes in Transition

TJ Tollackson on the run course.

TJ Tollackson

Craig Alexander on the run course. Craig was Ironman World Champion in 2008, 2009, and 2011.

Craig Alexander

Craig Alexander, winner of Eagleman 2012.

Craig Alexander 2012 Eagleman

Tim and Julie at Eagleman

We may not be professional triathletes, but we love the sport and we keep coming back to this race (even though it is always on the weekend of our wedding anniversary…what better way to celebrate?!)

Tim in 2012.

Tim Rivenbark

Julie in 2009.

Julie Rivenbark

Where to Stay

Cambridge, Maryland

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa, and Marina. This is the nicest place to stay in the area. There are also restaurants on the property, making it easy to eat well during race weekend. For many people on a budget, this is not the most economical of places, but if you are looking for a nice place to stay, this is your best bet.

Comfort Inn and Suites. Budget friendly, highly rated hotel in Cambridge.

Mill Street Inn. This bed and breakfast gets fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor and is within walking distance of Great Marsh Park.

Easton, Maryland

Easton is 16 miles away (30 minute drive) from Cambridge. If you are late reserving a hotel for the race, there are still usually plenty of options here. Plus, Easton has the largest selection of restaurants in the area.

Best Western Plus Easton Inn and Suites.  Highly rated hotel that serves breakfast at 4:15 am on race day for triathletes.

Hampton Inn Easton. Another highly rated, budget friendly hotel.

Holiday Inn Express Easton. This is where we stayed in 2016. We were able to reserve a room here just days before Eagleman. The hotel was clean, quiet, and comfortable and breakfast was served at 4 am on race day. They had tons of bananas, bottles of water, granola bars, bagels, and a large assortment of typical breakfast food. We would stay here again.

Oxford, Maryland

Sandaway Waterfront Lodging. Located in Oxford, Maryland, it is a 25 minute drive to Cambridge. Sandaway is a beautiful place to stay, located right on the Choptank River. We stayed here in 2012 and really enjoyed it here, although being in Easton was more convenient.

Combsberry Inn. This bed and breakfast is also located in Oxford. This is a beautiful property. We stayed in the Manor House in 2009 and loved it. They require a two night minimum stay.

Robert Morris Inn. We stayed here in 2010 and had a bad experience. In our room, the air conditioner barely worked and was incredibly loud. Due to the noise and the hot night, Tim and I had a very difficult time getting a good night’s sleep.

St. Michaels, Maryland

St. Michaels is getting a bit far away from Cambridge, but for those who want to race but also see a beautiful part of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, it may be worth the extra distance to stay here. From St. Michaels, it is 26 miles (40 minutes) to get to Cambridge.

Where to Eat

Cambridge

Carmela’s Cucina. This is a tiny, Italian restaurant that serves decent food. Reservations are highly recommended…we ate here Saturday afternoon and they were turning people away.

RAR Brewing. This is a popular artisan beer pub. This may not be the best pick for a pre-race meal but it may be worth a visit on Sunday afternoon!

Easton

Out of the Fire. A restaurant that serves a little bit of everything and gets awesome reviews.

Scossa Restaurant. The place to get your Italian fix.

Portofino Restaurante Italiano. Another place to get your Italian fix or load up on carbs before your race.

Bartlett Pear Inn. Maybe a little more upscale than you may be looking for on race weekend, this restaurant serves a wide variety of foods and is raved about on websites like Trip Advisor.

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman Website

To register for the race, get detailed course information, and more, visit the official IRONMAN website.


Are you racing Eagleman? Tim and I have been racing in long course triathlons since 2008 and have competed in Eagleman a total of four times. Do you have any questions about traveling to Cambridge, how to prepare for Eagleman, or want to learn more about the race?  If so, feel free to email us or comment below!

Looking for a cool destination triathlon? Try these:

Racing Ironman Barcelona

Racing Ironman Italy

Eagleman Ironman 70.3 Race Guide

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Comments 14

    1. Post
      Author

      Not off the top of my head, but if you click the link (in this post) to the official Ironman Eagleman website, they should list cutoff times there. Cheers, Julie

  1. Great post!! extremely helpful, I´ll race 70.3 and full ironman distance next year at Maryland. I´m happy to see that there are people like you sharing travel experiences

    1. Post
      Author
  2. Hello! I’m looking into Eagleman for my first Half Ironman. I live a convenient 2 hours away – would you recommend getting to Cambridge Friday or Saturday? Is the peace of mind of additional down/rest time worth staying the extra night, or can everything be taken care of the day before race day?

    Thanks in advance, and thank you for such an informational post!

    Brenna

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Brenna. Everything can be done the day before race day. We also live about two hours away from Cambridge. We usually arrive in Cambridge early Saturday afternoon, check-in, and rack our bikes. Then we have an early-ish dinner and relax for the rest of the day. For us, this works well. However, if you want to make a mini vacation out of the weekend, you can arrive on Friday and stay at the Hyatt or one of the nice bed and breakfast places nearby. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi Julie,

    Thank you very much for this well written post about Eagleman! I found it very helpful. I am looking into Eagleman for June 2018. This will be my first half IM and also the longest triathlon I will have ever done, so doing some research. June 10 is my birthday weekend and I live in Virginia, so this seemed like fate! However, I know there is also an Ironman Maryland in October but I believe that is a full. Do you know if the distance is the only difference between these 2 races?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Kevin. Yes, Ironman Maryland goes the full distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. It takes place in Cambridge, Maryland and shares a very similar route to Eagleman. If you have not done a long distance triathlon yet, I recommend starting with Eagleman next June. You could potentially do Ironman Maryland October 2018 if your training goes well (and if you enjoyed the Eagleman course). It’s exciting picking out races for next year, right? Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi there, I’m coming over from the UK to take part in The Eagleman 70.3 IM, Jun 17. It’s my 40th birthday treat (my friends think I’m crazy but reading your article I’m not the only one). I wasn’t planning on doing it in the UK! I’ve done various triathlon’s in Florida/ D.C. and UK all working towards this. I will be in the States a week prior to try and acclimatise. I have a few questions wondering if you were able to shed some light……
    1. Looking at the photos of Hyatt the pool seems more like a play pool? Is it easier to train in the river?
    2. Is there any way I can download the bike or run route to Garmin? I will recce the route but would be handy to have not knowing the area. I’ve seen routes on youtube which were really handy.

    1. Post
      Author

      What a nice way to spend your birthday! 🙂 I would think it would be better to train in the river. The pool at the Hyatt does not look like its designed for swimming laps, although I’m sure you can do it. I do not know if or how you could download the route to Garmin. Basically, the course is very flat, so cycling and running anywhere in the area would give you a feel of what to expect on race day. Hope this helps! Good luck!

  5. Hello, I enjoyed your article on the eagleman. I decided to take on the challenge and will finish it in June 2017. I first wanted to ask a few questions. Any suggested training plans for a father of two and works full-time. Second question out of the hotels (the Hyatt is already booked) you listed which would be the best for children I have a 8 eight and 11 year old. That early morning is tough on them. Last question any suggestions on how to make the day better for the wife and kids as they wait for me. Do you think it is worth it to by the VIP passes $150 each for good views and the hospitality. Look forward to hearing from you. I am sure to have more questions as I want to make this journey enjoyable for me and my family.

    Sincerely,

    Al Jones

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      Author

      Hello Al! Training for a half-Ironman while working full time is tricky. Try to get in 6 workouts per week, 2 each for the swim, bike, and run. On the weekends, get in your longer workouts and do a shorter, faster swim, bike, and run during the week. Three swims and three bikes per week is ideal but it is hard to squeeze all of this in. If you are training now, even just a little bit, and slowly ramp up through June, you will be ready for the race. If you want a great resource for training and racing triathlons, check out Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training Bible. As for Cambridge. The Hyatt may be sold out now, but rooms do tend to open up closer to race day. The Hyatt is a great place to stay. You could book a room at another hotel nearby with free cancellation and check back with the Hyatt in May. If the Hyatt becomes available, cancel the other hotel. This year, a week before the race, rooms were available at the Hyatt. As for your family waiting for you, there is one main transition area. There is some shade under a few trees here. It is almost always very hot! Because of the race course, your family won’t be able to easily drive back and forth to the transition area. To me, $150 per person sounds like a lot for the VIP area. I’d bring some blankets, a cooler with food and drinks, and a bag with activities to keep your kids occupied. It’s cool to watch the pro’s come and go, it seems like something is always going on. You all just need to be prepared for a warm, sunny day. And there will be some food trucks for snacks and lunch for your family. Please let me know if you have more questions! Happy training! Julie

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