Digital Communications Then and Now - an Ironman Retrospective

This Sunday, The Lake Placid Ironman will be held for the 13th time in our Adirondack Mountains. More than three thousand athletes compete over the course of a grueling day that starts off with a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and concludes with a 26.2 mile run.

When this event first came to Lake Placid in 1999, its scale and scope was that of a much smaller event. It is interesting to note how our communications landscape has similarly changed over this time period.

Back then, when Ironman North America first came to Lake Placid, web communications generally consisted of a website with information for athletes to sign up or register, and email accounts to stay in touch and provide updates. Smartphones were a novelty item, and tablets such as iPads did not exist. Now, smartphones and tablets outsell PCs.

Today, the Ironman online community includes a presence of over 150,000 people on Facebook, and over 25,000 on Twitter with a variety of #ironman and #imlp hashtags to facilitate the dialog. (A hashtag is the # symbol which is used to mark keywords or a topic in a Tweet.) An official online community ( has also been created, with over 17,000 members, and most recently a "Triathalon Tipps" circle (albeit in German) exists on Google+.

Athletes will come to town armed with smartphones and a plethora of mobile apps from which they will "live tweet" their weekend, post updates, and use apps to monitor their route, their training and even to track their sleep - and of course to stay up to speed on Ironman news and gossip. (Of course, phones are not allowed during the race).

This year, athletes and their families can download a new app dedicated to Adirondack travel which can be used to navigate places to eat, sleep, and relax. Since some spots in the Adirondacks do not have complete cell coverage, the Adirondack travel app works via the smartphone's built-in GPS capabilities. The app's "What's Nearby?" function provides travelers with an easy way to discover points of interest wherever they are within the Adirondack Region.

By the time Ironman comes to town again next year, industry forecasts anticipate that 50% of web traffic will be generated by mobile devices. I am sure there will be some new apps waiting for them when they arrive.

Ironman Shout-Out - Ironman North America is partnering with the Lake Placid based Uihlein Foundation to provide funding for area athletes with regional, national and international promise. Grants from this endowment will be available for perpetuity and are managed by the Adirondack Community Trust. Of note, six local recipients attended the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Triathlete Shout-Out - We wish Adworkshop web developer /programmer Chris Panza well for his first Ironman race on Sunday! 


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