Once again, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is coming. The triathlon on Saturday morning and early afternoon could make it tricky to get around parts of north and mid-Pinellas County. Organizers are trying to get the word out in hopes that drivers will avoid headaches along a 56-mile bicycle route that runs through Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor and East Lake.
• A 1.2-mile swim on Clearwater Beach
• A 56-mile bike course that goes from the beach as far east as McMullen-Booth Road, south to 82nd Avenue in Pinellas Park, and north to East Lake
• A 13.1-mile run through Clearwater
• Starts and ends next to Pier 60
• Nearly 2,000 elite athletes will compete in the 71/2 hour event, which begins at 7 a.m.
Intersections to avoid
These five in the Clearwater area will be blocked, causing significant traffic delays:
• Coronado Drive at the Beach Roundabout, 3 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Court Street, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Belcher Road and Drew Street, 7:15-10 a.m.
• Belcher and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, 9 a.m.-noon
• McMullen-Booth and Curlew roads, 7:30-10:45 a.m.
If you're going north and south, use U.S. 19. Avoid Belcher and McMullen-Booth roads.
Police will help drivers at intersections with traffic signals along the route.
Yield to cyclists at intersections without signals. Bikes have right of way on the course.
Drivers will share multilane roads with bicyclists. On most of the route, cyclists will be in the outside curb lane and vehicles will travel in the remaining lanes.
Where to watch
Spectators can catch shuttles from downtown and Sand Key Park. Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach is a good place to watch the swim, and the Pinellas County Courthouse and the Clearwater Memorial Causeway are good spots to watch parts of the bike and run.
Spectators are encouraged to park in downtown Clearwater and take the shuttles. Downtown parking includes City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave.; Pinellas County Courthouse, corner of Chestnut Street and Oak Avenue; Garden Avenue Garage, 28 N Garden Ave.; and the Municipal Services Garage, 100 S Myrtle Ave.
The run will go from Pier 60 through downtown and into Harbor Oaks and back to Pier 60. Runners will do two loops.
This part of the race will affect traffic on the Memorial Causeway, in downtown Clearwater, and in the Harbor Oaks neighborhood between approximately 9:20 a.m. and 4 p.m. To get to Morton Plant Hospital, use Pinellas Street.
The bike route
Cycling starts about 7:30 a.m. and runs until about 12:45 p.m. Here's where and when to expect the heaviest bike traffic:
• State Road 60 from the Roundabout to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, 7-9:15 a.m.
• MLK Avenue from Court to Drew streets, 7:10-9:15 a.m.
• Drew Street from Missouri Avenue to Belcher Road, 7:10-9:30 a.m.
• Belcher Road from Drew Street to Countryside Boulevard, 7:15-9:40 a.m.
• Countryside Boulevard from Belcher Road to Lake St. George Drive, 7:15-9:50 a.m.
• Tampa Road from Lake St. George Drive to Curlew Road, 7:20-10:15 a.m.
• East Lake Road from Tampa Road to Arbor Oaks Drive, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
• McMullen-Booth Road at Curlew Road, 7:30-10:45 a.m.
• McMullen-Booth Road from Curlew Road to the Bayside Bridge, 7:40-11:10 a.m.
• 49th Street from the Bayside Bridge to 82nd Avenue, 8:15-11:40 a.m.
• 82nd Avenue from 49th Street to Belcher Road, 8:30-11:45 a.m.
• Belcher Road from 82nd Avenue to Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, 8:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
• State Road 60 from Belcher Road to Clearwater Beach, 8:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Clearwater Beach traffic
Volunteers will begin setting up road closures around 3 a.m. on the beach. Drivers will not be allowed to go south of the beach roundabout. South beach residents and those needing access to and from south beach after 3 a.m. will need to use the Belleair Causeway.
Most roads along the route will have only partial lane closures. Full road closures include the following:
• Coronado Drive from the roundabout to Devon, 3 a.m.-5 p.m.
• McMullen-Booth Road and State Road 580, 7-10:30 a.m.
• McMullen-Booth Road northbound from Curlew to Tampa roads, 7-11 a.m.
• Bayside Bridge southbound from Drew Street to Roosevelt Boulevard, 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• 66th Street and Bryan Dairy Road, 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
• Fort Harrison Avenue from Chestnut to Jeffords streets, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Bay Avenue from Druid Road to Jeffords Street, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Magnolia Drive from the Pinellas Trail to Druid Road, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Druid Road from Jeffords Street to Orange Avenue, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Orange Avenue from Druid Road to Turner Street, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Turner Street from Orange to Oak avenues, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Oak Avenue from Turner to Chestnut streets, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
For more information: Go online to www.myclearwater.com/ironman or call (727) 562-4636.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4160.