St. George, Utah (April 21, 2017) – Maybe it’s the red rocks around the pristine waters of Sand Hollow State Park. Perhaps it’s the awe-inspiring views of Snow Canyon. Or it could be the spirit of the myriad volunteers who help make race day filled with incredible memories.
Whatever it is, the IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George triathlon, which will celebrate its eighth race here in town, adds all those ingredients together to create an experience that is anything but ordinary.
“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. Wurtele, a Canadian, spends a significant amount of time training in Southern Utah. “There is just a vibe. The whole community is really positive and into triathlon, which you can sense when you are here.”
The race offers spectators and athletes unrivaled scenery as 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 challenging terrain, eye-popping vistas and dedicated 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.”
Then Kienle is quick to add, “The amount of hospitality you experience here makes it almost a home away from home.”
The popularity of the St. George IRONMAN 70.3 race is far from just anecdotal. 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.”
Key facts about the 2016 St. George race include:
- 2,639 competitors started the event
- 82 professionals registered
- Pros who participated had a combined 13 World Titles
- 24 countries are represented
- 46 states are represented
- 11,616 estimated race visitors
- 4,181 estimated first-time visitors
The infusion of visitors typically provides a nice boon to the local economy. A year ago, the economic impact was estimated at $8 million.
“This event and the people who make it happen never stop inspiring me.” said Kevin Lewis, Director of the St. George Area Sports Commission. “The race has a prestigious reputation. Athletes all over the world respect and marvel at the dynamics of it all. The challenging terrain, the unpredictable and extreme weather, the striking natural beauty and the unrivaled community support combine to make IRONMAN 70.3 St. George ‘Anything but Ordinary.’ We are thrilled to host such an incredible event.”
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About the Office of Sports and Recreation
The St. George Area Sports Commission was established by the Washington County Commission to help responsibly grow the sports and recreation economy in Washington County, Utah, through the promotion and development of sports, and outdoor recreation.