Thousands competing in IRONMAN triathlon, expect traffic impacts

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — More than 3,100 people from around the world will take part in a grueling 70.3 mile course that begins at Wrightsville Beach and ends in downtown Wilmington.

The United Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina Triathlon begins at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday with a 1.2 mile swim in Banks Channel. After that, athletes will hop on bikes for a 56 mile ride from Wrightsville Beach, up Highway 421 into Pender County and then back downtown.

The final leg of the triathlon takes runners from downtown Wilmington to Greenfield Lake and back.

The entire race is expected to end around 4:00 p.m. There will be partial and full road closures along the race route.

Wilmington Police Officers and New Hanover County Sheriff Deputies will be stationed along the route at major intersections helping to guide traffic. Volunteers wearing orange safety vests will help with traffic control.


The swim course starts at Hanover Seaside Club and ends at Seapath Yacht Club. Participants will transition onto their bikes at Wrightsville Beach Park.


Traffic control devices will be in place at 6 a.m. It’s an open course, meaning roads are open to traffic but expect some lane closures and traffic pattern changes. Cyclists leaving Wrightsville Beach will be merged into the far left lane. Prior to the Eastwood/Military Cutoff intersection, the left lane will be coned off to traffic and available only to cyclists.

There will be major road closures along Eastwood/MLK. All roads intersecting westbound Eastwood and westbound MLK will be closed, except for Market Street and College Road. Traffic control devices and closure equipment will be removed when the last cyclist clears each intersection. This is estimated to end by 10:30 a.m.

Bicyclist will then continue over the Isabel Holmes Bridge and onto 421. They will head north to Malpass Corner and then return to downtown Wilmington.


Runners are expected to be on the route from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Road closures include the following:

  • Southbound Front St. between N. 3rd St. and Greenfield St
  • Brunswick St. between N. Front St. & Nutt St
  • Red Cross between N. Front St. & N. Water St
  • Nutt St. between Brunswick St. & to Wilmington Convention Center Parking Deck entrance
  • Hwy 76 to Northbound 421 closed to traffic with traffic detoured to 2nd exit ramp eastbound off Cape Fear Memorial Bridge then back to on ramp and over bridge
    to 421
  • Greenfield St. between S. Front St. and S. Fifth St.

The inner lane of Lake Shore Drive (lane closest to the lake) is closed from 5th St. to Amphitheater Drive. All traffic will have to travel in a counter clock wise direction to get
around the lake or out of the intersecting neighborhoods.

All vehicles entering Lake Shore Drive from any of the intersecting roads, must take a right hand turn onto Lake Shore Drive – no left hand turns will be allowed.

The awards ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. at Pier 33.

There will be 40 qualifying slots to the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, Pender

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