ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Athletes got to explore Virginia’s Blue Ridge over the weekend by competing in the Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

About 2,500 athletes from all over the country participated in this year’s 70.3-mile triathlon.

The race starts off with a 1.2-mile swim, then a 56-mile bike ride, and finally a 13.1-mile run.

Organizers say the race showcases the beauty of our region and the hearts of those who live in it.

“It’s just been really nice; friendly people, the town is amazing. I don’t know that I would have come to this area had I not signed up for this event,” said John Lingman, a participant from Florida.

Dr. Patrice Weiss, chief medical officer and executive vice president for Carilion, says they have close to 1,500 volunteers and 130 medical staff volunteers to make sure they provide safety to racers.

Four hours and 17 minutes after the start of the race, Matt Guenter from Boulder, Colorado crossed the finish line first.

“I set very achievable goals, which maybe winning a race isn’t achievable for everybody, but I want to set goals that I know I can accomplish because every time you finish a goal, you get a little boost,” said Guenter.

Guenter, who has relatives in the area, says he had to overcome a tightened muscle and a broken bike during his four-hour race, but kept pushing.

Organizers say last year’s IRONMAN athletes ranked Virginia’s Blue Ridge course in the top 10 in North America. They’re hoping this year it makes it to the top five.

A portion of the proceeds from the race will go to the Carilion Clinic Foundation.