ST. GEORGE — This year, Washington County will host the Ironman North American Championship. Unlike the Ironman 70.3 races the area has hosted in recent years, this will be a full triathlon and will impact a wider area. One of these areas will be Washington City.
“The race will impact Washington City substantially more than it has in the past,” Kevin Lewis, director of Washington County’s Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, told the Washington City Council during a workshop meeting held Wednesday.
Last May, Washington County signed an agreement to host seven Ironman races over the next five years. This year, the Ironman 70.3 is being replaced by a full race. The other races include three Ironman 70.3 North American Championships (2021, 2022 and 2024), one Ironman 70.3 World Championship (2021) and another full Ironman North American Championship (2023).
The 2020 Ironman triathlon will take place May 2 and is anticipated to be an all-day event.
The anticipated direct economic impact of the races combined is estimated to be $70 million.
The bicycling portion of the race will directly impact parts of Washington City’s main roadways, which include Washington Dam Road, Washington Fields Road, Telegraph Street, Washington Parkway, Buena Vista Boulevard, Cactus Lane, Green Springs Drive and Red Hills Parkway heading toward St. George.
A reason the bicycle portion of the race has been routed through Washington City is because of construction taking place on the Southern Parkway/state Route 7, Lewis said.
The bicycle part of the 2020 Ironman is 112 miles.
The council asked about the estimated times when the race will be passing through parts of the city and were told it is estimated the first Ironman cyclist will turn onto Washington Dam Road around 9 a.m., with the lead groups following behind reaching Buena Vista Boulevard by 9:30 a.m. Most cyclists are expected to pass through the city by 2 p.m.
“We can’t say enough how much we appreciate Washington City and their effort in this round because this really does slice up the city in a lot of directions,” Lewis said.
The triathlon can take eight to nine hours to complete with the first triathletes reaching the finish line in St. George somewhere between 3 and 4 p.m.
While the winners of the Ironman are celebrated, Lewis also encourages people to be at the finish line from 10 p.m. to midnight to cheer for the last of the athletes finishing the race.
“It’s an event like no other,” he said. “It’s the only event I’ve only been to where the last athlete to cross the finish line gets more applause than the first. It really is amazing.”
In other business, the City Council discussed the purchase of a Dixie State University bison statue in addition to the one recently placed at the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park. A new bison statue, plus the cost of painting it, is roughly estimated to run at $15,000.
The council also continued discussion about changing the name of the Canyon Park and Hell Hole Trailhead. The issue was originally raised by Councilman Kress Staheli who proposed removing the Hell Hole part of the name due to its potentially offensive nature and not providing the image Washington City wanted to project for itself.
A proposal to remove the name from the trailhead was voted down in a 3-2 vote during the regular council meeting held following the workshop meeting Wednesday.
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