Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Traffic delays and road closures: 7K people headed to town for Ironman race

The Ironman 70.3 North Carolina will take place Saturday . Photo courtesy- IRONMAN North Carolina
The Ironman 70.3 North Carolina will take place Saturday. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON — From beach to Battleship, 3,200 athletes will partake in the weekend’s Ironman 70.3 North Carolina race — considered one of the most difficult one-day races worldwide.

The triathlon includes a 1.2-mile swim course in Banks Channel on Wrightsville Beach, a 56-mile bike ride starting at Wrightsville Beach, traveling onto MLK Parkway, onto 421 into Pender County and back. It finalizes with a 13.1-mile run starting at Greenfield Lake on 3rd Street, with athletes traversing downtown on foot.

The race itself takes place Saturday, after months of training for most athletes. They will check in at Wilmington Convention Center downtown, transformed into Ironman Village. Exhibitors and vendors will be onsite.

The event is expected to bring 7,000-plus people to southeastern North Carolina, when accounting for athletic supporters and race personnel. Thousands of volunteers help organize and it is open to spectators for free.

The race has a multimillion economic impact with hundreds of thousands donated back into the community through the Ironman Foundation.

John Sneed, vice-president of sales and services for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the sporting event brings ample opportunity to show off the Port City’s numerous amenities.

“We are excited to welcome athletes, staff, exhibitors, volunteers, spectators and their guests with warm hospitality,” he explained in a press release. “It is our hope that everyone will enjoy the race and have an opportunity to also experience our great restaurants, attractions and tours during their visit.” 

It also means impeded traffic and road and lane closures can be expected during the height of the race on Oct. 15. Traffic control will begin as early as 3 a.m. Saturday morning, with detours and lane and road closures in place.

For example, during the cyclist portion, the left lane will be closed along Eastwood and Military Cutoff intersection down to Martin Luther King Parkway, onto Isabel Holmes Bridge, across onto Highway 421 northbound.

Here is a timeline of what can be expected on area roadways as provided by the race:


3 a.m. – 5 p.m.
N. 2nd St. from N. Front St. to Hanover St.

5:15 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Causeway Dr., from Waynick Blvd. at Wrightsville Beach to the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge. Use Lumina Ave. to Salisbury

6 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Brunswick St., from 3rd St. to Nutt St.
Hanover St. from N. 2nd St. to Nutt St.
Front St. (southbound) from N. 3rd St. to Red Cross St.

7 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
All roads intersecting Eastwood (eastbound) and MLK (eastbound), except Market St. and College Rd.

7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Hwy 76 to 421 (northbound). Traffic detoured to 2nd exit ramp
eastbound off Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, then to the on ramp and over the bridge to 421

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Red Cross St., from N. Front St. to N. Water St.

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Front St. (southbound) from Red Cross to Greenfield
S. Front St. (northbound) from S. 3rd St./Burnette St. to Dawson St.
Greenfield St. from S. Front St. to S. Fifth Ave.
S. 3rd St. (southbound) at Wooster St.


7 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Eastwood/Military CutOff intersection
College Rd. (southbound) from MLK to Racine Dr.
Market St. (eastbound) from College Rd. to MLK
One lane open to traffic on MLK (eastbound) from MacRae St. to College Rd.

7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Hwy 421 (north and southbound) I-140 Isabel Holmes

8 a.m. – noon
Hwy 210 West from 421 to Brinson Rd.

8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hwy 421 from 210 to Hwy 53

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Westbound access to Water St. will be open at cross streets along Front, unless otherwise mentioned above

Greenfield Lake Area

The inner lane of Lake Shore Drive (closest to the lake) is closed from 5th Ave to Amphitheater Dr. Traffic will travel counterclockwise around the lake and out of intersecting neighborhoods. All vehicles entering Lake Shore Dr. from any of the
intersecting roads must take a right hand turn onto Lake Shore Dr. — no left hand turns will be allowed.

To see maps of the race, click here.

Have comments or tips? Email info@portcitydaily.com

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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