‘Extraordinary’ field of professional triathletes set to toe the line at Ironman 70.3 St. George

2016 Ironman 70.3 St. George winner Lionel Sanders on the run course as he heads toward victory, May 7, 2016, St. George, Utah. Sanders will return for the 2018 race to compete with a stacked field of professional triathletes. | File photo courtesy of the St. George Area Sports Commission, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Fifty-four professional athletes will mix with approximately 2,500 amateur triathletes May 5 to attempt to conquer the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George – a race considered one of the toughest yet most scenic and enjoyable on the Ironman circuit.

Heather Wurtele, Ironman 70.3, St. George, Utah, May 7, 2016, | File photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

“For me as a professional athlete, St. George is anything but ordinary,” said Sebastian Kienle, a three-time Ironman world champion. “The race is extraordinary. It’s an extraordinary field every year and everything else around the race is extraordinary.”

The race begins at 7 a.m. at Sand Hollow State Park. After completing the 1.2-mile swim in the reservoir, athletes will take on a grueling 56-mile bike course followed by a 13.1-mile run ending on Main Street between Tabernacle and 100 South.

Boisterous fans greeting the athletes as they cross the finish line have been the norm.

“The crowds throughout this race are incredible,” said Lionel Sanders, who won the 2016 Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George. “It doesn’t matter what place you finish in when you accomplish something like this. It’s a very challenging course and you have done it on your own effort. I love the desert to begin with, but with the red rocks and the mountains … I just absolutely love it.”

Sanders isn’t the only returning St. George champion. Michael Weiss, who won the race in St. George’s first Ironman experience in 2010, is returning to attack the 70.3-mile version of the race.

On the women’s side, Heather Wurtele, a four-time St. George winner (2010-11; 2015-16), is back, as well as Meredith Kessler, who captured titles three consecutive years (2012-14) in St. George.

Kienle, who has yet to win the St. George race, has perhaps the most dynamic resume of those participating. He has won three Ironman or Ironman 70.3 world championships, has three runner-up finishes and one third-place finish in Ironman or Ironman 70.3 world title races.

There is a beckoning call to test your limits here,” said Kevin Lewis, director of the St. George Tourism Office. “The striking terrain provides a challenge as unique as the fiber in your very soul. Combine that with the enthusiasm of our community and the dedication of our wonderful volunteers and you have one of the most-anticipated races in the Ironman 70.3 circuit.”

Festivities begin May 3 at 3:45 p.m. at Town Square Park, 50 S. Main St. in St. George, the headquarters of Ironman, known as Ironman Village, for race weekend. There will be a pro athlete panel discussion at 3:45 p.m. followed by a pro athlete meet and greet at 4:15 p.m. The public is invited and welcome to attend both programs.

For more information about the race visit the Ironman 70.3 St. George website.

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1 Comment

  • Mike P April 28, 2018 at 11:19 am

    What is the difference between a professional and an amateur triathlete? Is it how many ads are on your running outfit? Does a “Professional” get paid? And when does one decide to go “pro” ? and what are the benefits ? I’m serious here.

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