St. George hosts eighth Ironman triathlon
Male competitors prepare to begin the 2016 competition, photo courtesy of Sorenson Company

The Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George triathlon will celebrate its eighth race May 6.

“Ever since I first came to St. George for the full Ironman in 2010, I felt incredibly captivated by the environment here,” said Heather Wurtele, an Ironman professional who has won four races in St. George. “There is just a vibe. The whole community is really positive and into triathlon, which you can sense when you are here.”

The course winds its way through a 1.2-mile swim at Sand Hollow State Park, a 56-mile bike ride through Snow Canyon State Park, and a 13.1-mile run that finishes at Town Square Park in downtown St. George.

St. George is one of only six regional Ironman 70.3 Regional Championship destinations in the world. The course has quickly become popular with athletes because of its terrain, vistas, and volunteers.

“The landscape is beautiful, the red rocks are stunning going up Snow Canyon,” said Mirinda Carfrae, a three-time Ironman world champion. “It’s a really tough course, the run is brutal, but it is a great race – an honest race. It’s an early season indicator of where your fitness is at.”

“It really deserves the title of being a championship,” added Sebastien Kienle, another three-time Ironman world champion. “You want to challenge yourself and this course is challenging – but it is an absolute beauty. It always makes you smile when you ride it – but not on race day. It makes you cry.”

Ironman 70.3 recently released its “Athletes Choice Awards” based off post-race athlete surveys, and the St. George race ranked in the top 10 in two categories. The St. George race placed third in the “Best Race Venue Experience” category and No. 6 in the “Best Host City Experience” category.

In 2016, there were 40 Ironman and 96 Ironman 70.3 events worldwide.

“The whole energy surrounding the event is magical,” said Jan Frodeno, a three-time Ironman world champion and triathlon gold medalist. “Yeah, it gives me goose bumps.”

The infusion of visitors typically provides a nice boon to the local economy. A year ago, the economic impact was estimated at $8 million.

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