St. George flourishes as IRONMAN 70.3 host; event infuses estimated $8 million into local economy
St. George, Utah (May 24, 2016) – The 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George triathlon attracted more than 11,000 visitors and infused an estimated $8 million into the local economy, according to data gathered by the Washington County Office of Sports and Recreation.
“The immediate economic impact of this event is substantial, but the long-term opportunities it provides go far beyond the boost that comes on race week,” said Kevin Lewis, Director of the St. George Area Sports Commission. “This event generates more media exposure than just about any event we have here, and the stories and images that are shared help reveal the amazing dynamics of our people and our landscapes.”
Lewis said one of the most important aspects of an event like IRONMAN is the emotional connection participants make to the area when they are here.
“They put their entire heart into it,” he said. “In St. George they are rewarded by a welcoming community, an appreciation for their efforts and a magical environment to compete in. That combination seems to link them to the area for life.”
Surveys certainly back that up. The research shows that 80 percent of the participants return to the area to vacation and train, bringing millions more in economic impact each year.
Having hosted IRONMAN events for seven straight years, St. George has flourished as one of the most popular venues in the world because of its challenging course, unmatched scenery and tremendous community support.
The event earned even greater acclaim in 2015 when it became the North American Pro Championship of the IRONMAN 70.3 division.
“Over the years it has played a major part in establishing and promoting the overall brand and culture of the entire area,” said Roxie Sherwin, Director of the St. George Tourism Office. “This
area offers a powerful combination of scenery and terrain, and we back it up with an energetic community full of committed volunteers who are engaged in the event.”
A breakdown in race statistics show:
- 2,639 competitors started the event
- 82 professionals registered
- Pros who participated carried a resumé that included 13 World Titles
- 24 countries are represented
- 46 states are represented
- 11,616 estimated race visitors
- 4,181 estimated first-time visitors
Defending champion Heather Wurtele, a Canadian who spends a significant amount of time training in Southern Utah, captured her fourth championship in St. George, including her second consecutive IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championship. Her finish was 4:16:48. St. George was the third straight IRONMAN 70.3 victory for Wurtele this year.On the men’s side, Lionel Sanders, also of Canada, won his fourth straight IRONMAN 70.3 start this year with a time of 3:48:18.The IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championship, one of Southern Utah’s signature sporting events, will continue in St. George through 2019, per an agreement struck with IRONMAN in 2015.“This event and the people who make it happen never stop inspiring me,” Lewis said. “The athletes are incredible, the support is tremendous – even Mother Nature loves to play her part in the show. The rainy weather, cooler temperatures and tricky conditions this year just seemed to elevate the enthusiasm and determination of the volunteers and athletes.”
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