Ironman 70.3 St. George earns top accolades from participants

In this May 2019 file photo, professional triathlete Ben Hoffman makes the climb through Snow Canyon State Park during the 2019 Ironman St. George, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2019 | File photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George continues to rank among participants’ favorite Ironman 70.3 events, earning accolades in the 2019 Athlete Choice Awards.

Bikers at the start line for the 2019 Ironman 70.3 race in Southern Utah, May 4, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Based solely on athlete surveys, the awards rank the top 10 highest scoring events in a variety of categories from all the 2019 Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races held around the world.

Out of the 113 Ironman 70.3 series events that took place in 2019, the St. George race ranked in the top 10 in two categories. The race was selected eighth in Overall Venue Experience and ninth in Overall Bike Experience, according to a press release.

For every Ironman and Ironman 70.3 race, surveys were sent post-event to all athletes who competed. Based on the cumulative results, the top 10 global events were ranked.

Surveys were based on a five-point satisfaction scale. There were over 60,000 total respondents for the survey.

In addition to being ranked ninth in overall bike experience, the St. George bike course was the first and only bike course in the United States to make it in the top 10.

This comes as no surprise to St. George resident Rich Bruin who is an avid triathlete and has competed in every Ironman and Ironman 70.3 St. George since the race was brought to the area in 2010.

Holly Lawrence, the first female professional athlete to start running, heads toward the finish line of the 2019 Ironman 70.3 in Southern Utah, May 4, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“It gets my vote,” Bruin said, adding that the whole course challenges riders of every skill level with both its climbs and descents.

As a local, Bruin can often be found riding on the bike course which winds through some of the most scenic and hilly areas of Washington County, including the long climb up Snow Canyon State Park.

“Snow Canyon is unique, and as a local, I feel lucky to be able to ride it for fun and enjoy it on a regular basis,” Bruin said.

The Ironman 70.3 St. George has seen fairly broad community support and has had a large base of volunteers since its inception which, Kevin Lewis, director of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, said is a large contributing factor in the race’s success among athletes.

“Our community plays such a big role in the success of theses events, and it is always refreshing to hear that the participants recognize the enthusiasm and effort of our residents,” Lewis said in a text to St. George News.

The community’s support of the triathlon also helped secure the bid for the area to host the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championship which will take place in September 2021.

Diana Bertsch, senior vice president of world championship events for Ironman, previously told St. George News that one of the keys to a successful world championship event is having a strong sense of community support, which is something she said she felt in St. George when she was visiting in 2019 as part of the site selection committee for the world championship race.

The world championship race is part of a five-year host venue deal with Ironman that will see Washington County hosting Ironman events through 2024, starting with the return of the full Ironman May 2.

A swimmer coming out of the water at Sand Hollow Reservoir during the 2019 Ironman 70.3 in Hurricane, Utah, May 4, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The Ironman 2020 North American Championship St. George will act as a qualifying race for the Ironman World Championships which are held annually in Kona, Hawaii.

Seventy-five qualifying spots will be on the line at May’s race which will see the area return to its Ironman roots – St. George hosted a full Ironman in 2010, 2011 and 2012 before changing to an Ironman 70.3 event.

The North American Championship course will include several familiar sections from both the full Ironman and the Ironman 70.3 courses – the swim is virtually the same as the 70.3 course but athletes will do two laps – however, there will be several changes to the bike and run courses.

Following the May race, Washington County will host the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship in May of 2021 as well as the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in September of 2021.

The world championship race will have two days of racing with the women racing one day and the men racing the following day.

Races will also be held in 2022 (Ironman 70.3), 2023 (full Ironman) and 2024 (Ironman 70.3).

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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