STAFFORDSHIRE is set to come alive this weekend as over 2,500 athletes from around the world will be taking part in the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire.
IRONKIDS kicked off the weekend’s racing from today at Shugborough. The event saw over 400 kids aged 3 – 14 take part in the fun run around the historic estate.
Then tomorrow, on Sunday 14th June, over 2,500 athletes who managed to secure a place for this eagerly anticipated race in a record 14 minutes, will be taking the plunge at Chasewater’s spectacular swim setting from 7am for the 1.2 mile swim. From here the athletes will embark on a 56 mile bike ride, taking in the beautiful Cannock Chase before heading into Shugborough for the final 13.1 mile, 3 lap run course in an around the estate.
Key spectator hotspots have been set up for supporter to get close to the action and cheer on athletes of all ages, abilities and profile embarking on this endurance sporting event. Not only will the crowds have the opportunity to see the reigning IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Javier Gomez of Spain in action, but also some key UK pro triathletes including reigning IRONMAN 70.3 UK Champion Will Clarke as well as multiple IRONMAN winner Lucy Gossage.
Staffordshire County Council is hosting the inaugural event and Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Economy, Environment & Transport, said it was set to be a fantastic weekend for the county.
Mark said: “We are really proud to be hosting the very first IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire and we are really looking forward to giving the athletes a great welcome this weekend.
“This event is great news for tourism and the local economy and a huge opportunity for us all to showcase what a fantastic county this is.”
Ahead of the race Will Clarke commented: “I’m really excited to race IRONMAN 70.3 Staffs, I love a good home race and this is almost on my door step at just under an hour away. The competition is super high with the likes of Javier Gomez racing and my preparation is far from ideal after IRONMAN Lanzarote. I’m missing some race fitness but a hard race here will hopefully kick start my form again with a view to qualifying for Kona and the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champs.”
Lucy Gossage, who has been giving some top tips to Gordon Ramsay and his novice GR100 charity team, also relayed her excitement of racing on home soil: “I’m really excited to be doing 70.3 Staffs. I absolutely love racing in the UK – the crowd support really spurs me on and I’ve got incredibly fond memories from my wins at IRONMAN UK, Wales and 70.3 Ireland. I managed to get round the bike course in gale force winds last week without getting blown off so I’m hoping it will be a bit easier on race day!”
While the Pro field will be looking for qualifying points towards their Pro rankings, as well as a $25,000 prize fund, all of the athletes will be completing the same course and hoping to cross the finish line within the 8.5 hr time limit.
Former England footballer and Leeds United defender Danny Mills is one of the high profile names joining Gordon and Tana Ramsay’s GR100 team, and TV presenter Charlie Webster will be using 70.3 Staffordshire as her warm up race to competing in IRONMAN UK next month.
A range of athletes are entered in the age group field, from first timers (58%) to seasoned triathletes. From the youngest (18) to the oldest (72), there are some hugely inspirational entries who have defied all odds to make the start line and numerous athletes who have turned their life around in the process. Each has their own personal story, but all of them prove that anything really is possible.
Kevin Stewart, Managing Director IRONMAN UK and Ireland said: “After months of planning and preparation for staging this long awaited event in Staffordshire, we are really looking forward to welcoming spectators and athletes alike for what we hope will be a fantastic weekend of IRONMAN racing.
We would encourage as many residents as possible to come and cheer all the athletes along – the crowds make such a huge contribution to the atmosphere of the event.”
Further information on the event and key spectator vantage points can be found on the Ironman Staffordshire website here.
For more information on visiting Staffordshire visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/ironman or #IM703STAFFS