St. George to host the ‘unicorn of events’ when Ironman 70.3 World Championship comes to town

Ironman triathlete Heather Wurtele cycling through Snow Canyon State Park, May 7, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Thousands of elite triathletes will bring their dreams to life when the Ironman 70.3 World Championship comes to Southern Utah.

Starting line of the IRONMAN 70.3 North American Championship, Sand Hollow State Park, Utah, May 1, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office, St. George News

The event in St. George on Sept. 18 will bring together top professional and age-group competitors from across the Americas and many other countries, testing their swimming, biking and running abilities on one of the toughest and most exhilarating triathlon race courses in the world.

Paul Huddle, senior regional director for the Ironman Group, told St. George News that the stunning scenery and rugged geography in Southern Utah creates a special venue for the World Championship.

“What’s unique about this particular race is it’s hard geographically; it’s not a flat course for the bike or the run,” Huddle said. “I really love that. But there’s a benefit there, a reward there with the beauty of it.”

Huddle said that racers often finish the course in St. George and say, “Man, that was so hard but I didn’t notice it!” because of the stellar views and beautiful scenery they race through.

“Triathletes might not get a more beautiful course in the world, but they might get an easier one,” he added. “The course reflects the nature of the terrain of the local community. The hard is what makes it good.”

The race will combine a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run to reach the total of 70.3 miles traversed on the course.

The swim starts and finishes at the boat ramp at Sand Hollow Reservoir. The bicycle ride goes through the communities of Hurricane, Washington, St. George, Santa Clara and Ivins.

And the run starts and ends in St. George, traveling the Red Hills Parkway for a stunning view above the city and then descending to the finish line on Main Street between 100 South and Tabernacle.

While St. George has hosted Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events before, this will be the first time the World Championship is decided in Southern Utah.

The bike course of the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship | Map courtesy of, St. George News

“Ironman has been coming here since 2010. The obvious things that set this venue apart are the location and place. St. George is spectacular. If you haven’t been to this part of the country, it’s a shock in a good way. It’s stunning.” 

Huddle said a defining aspect of the race in St. George is its culture.

“The spirit of this community, the volunteer spirit and support from Washington County and the St. George area is what makes this so great,” he added. “We put on races all over the world, and I don’t think there is another location that reflects such a spirit.”

The theme of the World Championship race is the “land of endurance.”

“This ties together the spirit of the Southwest and the settlers that had the endurance and fortitude to settle this area, with the endurance of what it takes to complete an Ironman triathlon,” Huddle said.

The thrilling and challenging course conditions plus the scenic views and rugged beauty of the terrain in St. George combines with the area’s community spirit to make an ideal venue for Ironman’s signature race.

“I like to think of it as the unicorn of events,” Huddle said.

Complete details about details on the course, spectator locations, traffic impacts and volunteer opportunities are available at

Written by E. GEORGE GOOLD for St. George News.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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