ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For the past few days, athletes from all over have been in Roanoke preparing for Ironman 70.3 at Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
The triathlon involves a 1-mile swim, a 56-mile bike course, and a 13-mile run. Many athletes say they have been preparing for this for most of the year, if not all of it.
The big day was canceled last year because of the pandemic. Now, restrictions are loosening.
This isn’t just a big day for the athletes. The large crowds are bringing some businesses back to life.
“We as a city and a region have missed the energy of an event like this,” said Alex Conner, the General Manager of Starr Hill Brewery in Roanoke. “The only thing I would say is even comparable is the Blue Ridge Marathon. It’s been a long time since we’ve had something like this and it feels good.”
Starr Hill Brewery is the official beer sponsor for the race this year. After experiencing a tough year, Conner says this is exactly what they needed.
“The scale, the scope, the reach, with people coming from all over the world, it’s certainly bigger than anything we’ve ever done,” Conner said.
Race director Brandt Bernat says Roanoke was an easy pick for the triathlon. He says they hope the community can enjoy it just as much as they will.
“Our athletes are healthy individuals who like to challenge themselves and take on new adventures and Roanoke has all of that,” Bernat said. “We’re able to bring them into a community that’s supportive and welcoming for an outdoor adventure lifestyle. Whether the course is in your backyard or in your community, come out and cheer on the athletes, make a funny sign, bring a cowbell, have some fun with it, pop up in a lawn chair.”
Athletes headed in early on Saturday, June 5 to rest. The race will start Sunday, June 6 at 6:30 a.m. and is expected to end around 4 p.m. It will be live-streamed at Rivers Edge Park.
“My family has lived here for a really long time and to see the excitement and the energy, and people loving Roanoke for Roanoke — it’s a testament to how much we’ve grown and how much of a testament we are to Virginias Blue Ridge and what we mean to the state,” Conner said.
You can find more about the event and what roads will be closed on the Ironman website.