ST. GEORGE – The second annual Ford Ironman St. George will kick off Saturday, May 7, pitting over 2,000 registered endurance triathletes against a 17-hour time limit to complete a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run. Competitors ages 18 to 70 will be coming from 48 states and 36 countries to push their personal limits on a course many refer to as the most challenging of Ironman routes.
“Ironman St. George is truly on a level apart from the other races on the U.S. Ironman calendar,” said triathlete coach Rich Strauss of Endurance Nation. “It is like a ‘world’s toughest’ of the Ironman World.”
The St. George course begins at Sand Hollow reservoir for a 2.4-mile loop through open water. The bike course leads athletes from Hurricane to Washington, passing St. George, and up the steep switchbacks north of Gunlock. After a second bike loop through Gunlock, competitors lace up their shoes for two stretches of out-and-back running up Red Hills Parkway’s steep climb overlooking the city. The race ends alongside Heritage Tower in downtown St. George.
Men’s 2010 champion Michael Weiss returns this year, along with women’s 2010 winner Heather Wurtele. Other returning pros to watch for at this year’s event include Chris McDonald, who placed third at St. George in 2010, and Meredith Kessler, who finished second for women.
Ford Ironman St. George is one of eight full-distance Ironman events held each year in the United States and one of 24 held each year around the world. From this event, 65 of the fastest participants will qualify to take their triathlon skills to the next level—the Ford Ironman World Championship held each October in Kona, Hawaii.
Kevin Lewis, Director of Sports Marketing with the St. George Convention and Tourism Office, said spectators need not fear ridiculous road closures or inhibiting mealtime crowds, but may look forward to convenient access to local restaurants, shopping, and businesses throughout race day.
“You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get around!” Lewis said. “With few exceptions, local businesses can operate without interruption and residents are able to easily get where they need to go.”
Locals who wish to cheer on athletes can join the fun at a variety of venues. At 6:00 p.m. Friday evening, kids ages 12 and under can participate in a one-mile or 200-meter fun run for $10 that finishes through the Ironman arch. Children will receive a t-shirt and medal. Vendors and food will be available at Town Square for the evening.
On race day, the Boy Scouts and Lions Club will serve hot breakfast at the Sand Hollow Reservoir swim start, including breakfast burritos, egg sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, hot drinks, and juice for a few dollars apiece.
Also, Washington City will be hosting a free pancake breakfast Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until noon at the corner of Main St. and Buena Vista with music and games.
The Ivins Fitness Festival at Unity Park will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will have the Ironman announcer, contestants from The Biggest Loser, entertainment, art, vendors, demonstrations, inflatables, and free photos.
Food vendors will also be available at Town Square in downtown St. George from 11:00 a.m. till midnight.
For more information, visit www.ironmanstgeorge.com.