Packed field of professionals will battle for Ironman 70.3 St. George title

Sebastian Kienle follows Lionel Sanders into the water for the 2018 Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George, Sand Hollow Reservoir at Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah, May 5, 2018 | File photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The eyes of the triathlon world turn to St. George on May 4 as the best triathletes in the world are set to compete in one of the most challenging fields in the Ironman 70.3 circuit. Each professional, including two world champions, will compete for the North American Pro Championship title and their share of a six-figure purse.

Ironman pro competitor Sebastian Kienle finished the 56-mile bike course first and sets out on the run course. 2018 Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George. St. George, Utah, May 5, 2018 | File photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

According to a press release from the St. George Area Sports Commission, many of the professionals set to take on this year’s course are familiar names to the Ironman 70.3 St. George race.

On the men’s side, Ben Hoffman – fresh off his Ironman win in South Africa – won this race in 2012 and returns to compete alongside big names like Sebastian Kienle who looks to win this year after coming in second behind Lionel Sanders last year.

The female pro lineup is filled with the world’s best including three women who have won this race the last three years. Paula Findlay returns to attempt a repeat after her win last year. Findlay will contend with Holly Lawrence who won the race in 2017 and five-time St. George winner Heather Wurtele.

In all, 70 professional athletes will test their skills on a course known to be one of the most challenging courses in the world.

“There are few places on earth that attract such talented and competitive pro fields as the Ironman 70.3 St. George North American Pro Championship,” Kevin Lewis, director of the Washington County Office of Tourism, said in the press release. “This year’s field is stacked with several St. George champions, including an Ironman World Champion and an Ironman 70.3 World Champion.”

Professional triathlete Holly Lawrence makes her way to a first place finish at the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2017 | File photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

With the recent announcement that St. George is one of two finalists to host the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championships, all eyes will be watching as two world champions fight for the title. Kienle, who has yet to win the St. George race, 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. Lawrence is the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Champion.

Read more: ‘The world is already here’; Crowd gathers to welcome Ironman 70.3 selection committee

A pro panel featuring several of the top contenders will take place Thursday at 3:45 p.m. in the Ironman Village located at Town Square Park, 50 S. Main St., St. George.

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