Registering for Your Ironman


Howdy Stampeders!!!

Welcome to Registering for Your Ironman. This is another post in the A Year to 140.6 series that will help you get one step closer to your full distance triathlon.   We have already covered what is involved in a triathlon, selecting your triathlon and a year long checklist for preparing for your Ironman.  Of course, if you don’t get signed up for your race of choice you will be sitting on the sidelines so now it is time to talk about the ins and outs of registering for an Ironman.

You are probably thinking I know how to register for a race. I don’t need to read a post about it. That was what I thought too. But luckily, The Woman to Blame (TWTB) schooled me on how to sign up for an IM when we registered for our first one.  Without her help I would have never made it in.

IMs are not your typical races, so registering for them can’t be typical either. They have three different entry options.  The cheapest is the General Entry and in many of the races this option sells out within a few hours (some within minutes) of registration opening online.  So I am including a few tips to help you register faster if you are choosing the General Entry option. I am also providing a printable, based on the IM registration process, that you can use to combine all your pertinent information in one place.  The printable is located at the bottom of the post.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t get shut out. Learn how to register for an Ironman.”]

Registering for your Ironman

So you have selected your IM race or another 140.6 distance race.  Unless you are in awesome shape this is not a distance that you decide “I think I will go out and swim, bike, run 140.6 miles next weekend.”  They usually take a lot of training time to prepare for and as I already mentioned, often sell out a year in advance.  So you need to make some decisions about what entry option you want to choose and then be ready when the race registration opens online.  I will be using some screen shots from the IM Boulder registration process to illustrate some points.  Of course, this is one of the IMs that did not sell out a year in advance.  🙂  So if you think this is your year and August is your month – go sign up for Boulder!

Determine Your Entry Option

Ironman races offer three entry options:

  • General Entry -$685.00
  • Foundation Entry -2 options
    • Community Fund Entry – $1370.00
    • Team IMF – Fundraising Entry – This normally involves raising a base amount of at least $3000 for charity

Both of the foundation entry options are a wonderful way to combine your Ironman experience with charitable causes.  I have never selected this option.  Don’t judge.  But Just a Mom Who Tri’s is currently training for Ironman Arizona and she chose the Team IMF Fundraising entry option.  You can read about her journey to an Ironman and why she selected the fundraising option on her post Arizona Ironman and My Story.  At the very least you should read her story and, if you can manage it, donate to her Ironman journey.  Every little bit helps.

Entry Options – Prices may vary slightly between Ironmans

Research and Determine Historically if this Race Sells Out Quickly or Not

Once you have selected your race, and if you know you are going to go with the general entry option, then you need to know if your race is one that sells out early.  You can figure this out by doing a Google search including the name of the IM you want to do and the words sells out.  I Googled Florida Ironman Sells Out and this article popped up about how in 2012 the 2013 general entries sold out in less than a minute and even the foundation entries sold out in record time.  If you have selected a race that has a history of selling out within either the day or week it opens, you need to be prepared to be ready to register when the race opens online.

Know the Date and Time that Registration Will Open Online

IM registration usually opens for the next year at noon the day after the race is held.  So if the race is held on November 2nd, race registration will open to the general public on November 3rd at noon.  And by noon I mean noon in the race timezone.  If you are in a different time zone you need to adjust accordingly.

At the appointed time that the race will open to online registration, you need to be sitting in front of a computer with a solid internet connection.  Actually you need to be at the computer at least 10 minutes prior to make sure that you have everything ready to go.  Then bring up the website for the IM race you are registering for and be prepared to hit refresh repeatedly until the site with the red REGISTER button pops up.

Processed with Moldiv

Have an Active Endurance Account 

When you click the register button it will take you to a login page for Active Endurance.  The minutes count here people. This isn’t the time you should be creating an account. You should already have an account set up and have your user name and password handy.  Try to login before the race registration goes live to make sure everything is working.  You may have to log in again to Active Endurance when you are directed there from the IM site during registration, but if you have already checked that your username and password are working then it shouldn’t be an issue.

Processed with Moldiv

Complete the Registration With the Minimum Amount of Information

Once you get logged in to Active Endurance you will be faced with A LOT of questions.  Not just your basic name, DOB, address type questions, but also medical, allergies and your life story type questions.  This is not the time to type out your life story.  Answer the required questions with the minimum amount of fuss possible.  Use the printable linked at the bottom of the post to have all of your information ready to go.

You will need to fill in the name of your medical insurance company and your policy number.  Make sure that you have this information handy.

The Refund Policies

Ironman has two refund policies.  One is a partial refund and transfer policy.  It is included in the screenshot of the entry options above. Basically if you notify Ironman by a date specific to your race you can either be refunded $150 of your entry or transfer your entry to another 2015 70.3 Ironman or 140.6 Ironman that has open slots.  Make sure you read the fine print on this option and what the cut off date is.

The second policy you buy for $90 and it refunds the full race amount under certain conditions.  You can read more about this option here.  However, this is not an I didn’t train so I don’t think I will do the race refund option.  They are very specific about what creates a valid reason for withdrawing from the race that will receive a refund and not training isn’t one of them.  However, being injured is a valid reason. Don’t get too excited though.  They are also very specific about the fact that the injury can’t be self-inflicted.  Translation -throwing yourself off your bike in a fit of panic so that you don’t have to do the race will not get you a refund.

Have Your USAT Card Handy

You will have to fill in your USAT number, so have your card or at least your number nearby.

Have a Valid Credit Card (or Two) Handy

Okay, you are on the home stretch. Now is not the time to have to go dig around in your purse, diaper bag, gym bag or thaw the block of ice surrounding your credit card.  Have the card, and maybe a backup, out and by the computer ready to finalize your transaction.

And that is all there is to it! 🙂

One final tip and this is a big one – you can bypass all of this hoopla by volunteering at the event the year before you want to race it.  IM opens race registration up to volunteers the morning after the race, but before it goes on-line to the general public.  This is a great option as it also gives you the opportunity to scout out the race location, weather conditions, courses, etc.

Here is the printable I kept referencingRegistering for your Ironman

Okay, so now you are registered for your IM. Let the training and panic attacks kick in. Just kidding. Go to the A Year to 140.6 page to review the year to an IM checklist.  Make sure to print out a copy.

Happy Trails!!!


  1. Bradley says:

    While I have no intention of signing up for an Ironman anytime soon, I had to read your post because I adore your writing style and you always make me laugh. Who knew a post about online registration could be so engaging? Nicely done!

  2. Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles says:

    What a great resource for anyone wanting to register for an IM, I didn’t realize it was so exhaustive of a process–and the cost?? WOW!! I understand why people don’t race a lot of them in one year, talking about PRICEY!

    • Ima Mosier says:

      Yes, they are crazy expensive. But they are cool races and a lot to coordinate so I get the cost. That doesn’t make it any easier on the pocketbook though.

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Lisa @ Lisa Runs for Cupcakes says:

    I knew that Ironmans were expensive but WOW! It seems like tons of races are selling out faster and faster. I definitely try to make sure that I set a reminder on my telephone to be ready for registration for those races that sell out within minutes. This week, I got in to the Beach to Beacon 10k and it sold out it 4.5 minutes flat. INSANE!

    • Ima Mosier says:

      Lisa, they are sooo expensive, but they are long and logistically tough so I totally get the cost. Yes, a lot of races are selling out very fast, not just Ironman races.

      Congratulations on getting in to Beach to Beacon. I should go back an add in setting a reminder to be ready for registration. Good tip!

  4. Amanda says:

    Great post! And thank you so much for including me in it. One thing to also add and this is the case with Ironman Az is that this race doesn’t even open up to the public. It sells out THAT fast. You see in order to get priority registration you have to volunteer the year before. So you work your volunteer shift and then get a pass to stand in the volunteer line at say 3:30 am! Then those in line get to register before the general public. In the past Ironman could open the registration to the general public for about an hour or two. But this past year all the spots filled with volunteers. Since I wanted to race this one in 2015 for my 40th birthday, my only option was to do the Foundation route. I’m perfectly ok with that though! I’ll still pay my registration fee, I just now get to write it off on my taxes and I’ll raise some extra money for a good cause.

    • Ima Mosier says:

      I really appreciate you allowing me to share your story in my post. Even though I haven’t done it, I think going the foundation route is a great way to do an Ironman.

      I only have a small blurb about the volunteer option at the very end of the post. I may move it up to the top. I didn’t know that IM AZ never even went public. How crazy is that? But I do like that it encourages people to volunteer at the races.

      Thank you for the information and for letting me link to your post.

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