2.4 mi. swim 112 mi. bike 26.2 mi. run 2200 participants I was in Madison, Wisconsin for a soccer tournament all weekend with my younger son. It was also the big weekend for the Ford Ironman Wisconsin which takes place in the sports-crazy town that is known as one of the best spots to bike in the United States. Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin, AKA: America's premier "party college." Those two attributes have a bit to do with why this race is so popular and so successful, but there is a lot more to the magic that makes this such a hugely successful event. The two-loop Ironman Wisconsin swim takes place in the warm waters (75 degrees) of Lake Monona. The competitors don't have to leave the water at the end of the first loop - they just swim straight around the corner of the swim start to begin the second loop. Like the swim, the bike course in Madison is a two-loop affair. After running up the ramp up to the transition area in the parking lot here at the Monona terrace, the competitors jump on their bikes and ride down the opposite ramp to start the ride. After coming through T2 in the Monona terrace, the competitors embark on the marathon run. The run goes through the University of Wisconsin campus (including a loop around Camp Randall Stadium), which provides an huge spectator base as the students cheer the competitors on through the course. While we did not stay to see the finish it was amazing just to see all the watchers and the participants. The swim started at 7am and the first finishers started coming across the line 9 1/2 hours later. The first man to finish was 26 year old Maik Twelsiek @ 8:52:49. He has only been doing ironman competitions for one year and was dominant in the race from the beginning swim. He finished a full 10 minutes before the second place finisher. Gina Ferguson, racing in her fourth Ironman of the year, not to mention the fourth Ironman of her career, dominated the womens race, setting a new course record in winning by more than 34 minutes. She finished in 9 hours and 37 minutes.