The Race-cation Guide to Ironman Cairns
Ironman Cairns is probably one of the most scenic race destination in the Asian-Pacific triathlon circuit.
In contrast to their southern counterpart, Cairns, located in far northern Queenland, offers 30-degree weather and sweet-smelling balmy nights. Think tropical beaches, long walks in your shorts and summer hats, al fresco dining, and the like.
Cairns is also a great opportunity for first timers and intermediate triathletes to experience one of the best courses in the world.
The timing of the race works well for almost anyone, it’s right at the sprint for northern hemisphere triathletes, allowing plenty of time of good weather to train, before the winter for Australians/New Zealand athletes, and before the rainy season for South East Asian triathletes.
Other than the main Ironman events, athletes also have the option to take part in several other races and events, such as a 5k night run on Friday, Kids race on Saturday or still experience the Ironman experience with the Ironman 70.3 race that is held at the same time and course of the Ironman.
Getting there & around
Depending on where you are flying from, there may be a direct flight to Cairns International Airport (CNS). In Asia these options as of now are: Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bali, Tokyo, Osaka, Bali, Shanghai, Guangzhou. However most international athletes prefer the several options of flights to Brisbane, then connecting to Cairns.
Once in Cairns, the airport, which is actually the title sponsor of the race, happens to be very close to downtown and where the Ironman race central is. If you are staying there, it will be a quick 10min taxi ride to your hotel. But if you prefer to stay in Palm Cove, that’s a 20-minute taxi ride.
Once in Cairns, regardless of where you will be based, the organizers offer shuttle buses in between Palm Cove and Ironman City for only AUD5, every 30min, making it very easy to get around. In terms of where to stay in Cairns or Palm Cove, it depends on your personal preferences and what else do you plan to do with this trip.
Palm Cove is a much quieter, paradise type of beach town. Cycling in the area is safer and you have the benefit of being closer to the swim start on race morning. Cairns downtown in the other hand offers a lot more entertainment options especially if traveling with the family. That’s where the ferry to the Great Barrier Reefs departs from, and there are more shopping malls and endless options of restaurants and bars.
Things to do in Cairns (preferably after your race)
The tropical weather dictate that there will be a multitude of outdoor activities that can be done in and around the outskirts of Cairns.
- Cairns Esplanade: The esplanade is highlighted by a 4800 square meter saltwater lagoon with adjoining barbecue areas. The 12 heactares of open public space screams numerous choices of café, bar, and restaurants as well as skate and fitness parks, volleyball courts and much more.
- Kuranda: Great for nature-tripping, and perfect for family adventure. Plenty to do here such as riding in the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Kuranda Scenic Railway or the Riverboat Tours. A trip to the Heritage Market will give you access to local arts and craft, as well as a taste of local cuisine.
- Palm Cove: Cairns’ northernmost beach is home to luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, and as mentioned, much peaceful mood in contrast to a bustling city.
- Great Barrier Reef: Cairns is the gateway to Australia’s greatest national treasure. Charters and ferries operate daily and there are many ways to experience the grandeur of the world’s biggest coral reef, including sailing, motorboat and even a skydive.
- Markets: Cairn’s is home to a vast array of Farmer’s markets, among these Rusty’s Market and Jonnson’s Farm Market. Nibble on local fruits and other fresh produce from local farms.
- Cairn’s Coffee Culture: There is a coffee culture boom, and those who are addicts to caffeine will be glad to know that the rise of the hospitality industry has sparked the opening of new and hip cafes in and around Cairns.
- Extreme Adventure: If you love adventure on the extreme side, Cairn’s has options for you from AJ Hackett Bungy to Cairns ZOOm and Wildlife Dome.
- Culture and Nature Trips: Far north Queensland is a rich font of the past and present Aboriginal culture and Tjapukai does heritage with style. The Cairns Botanic Gardens will immerse you to the 415 million year evolution of the Australian wet tropics fauna while Tank Arts Centre is a funky venue for art shows, music recitals and theatre.
The activities and tourist destination in and around Cairns are numerous to mention here. There are literally unlimited options to enjoy the activities the host venue has to offer after your race (yes, don’t waste your legs doing all of these stuff before your Ironman race). While you may suffer at Cairns beforehand, the reward of your Finish and the vacation afterwards is all worth it.
For more information and to register for IRONMAN Cairns go to www.ironmancairns.com
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