ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Ironman triathlon is returning to Virginia’s Blue Ridge on Sunday, June 4. The festivities have already started to kick off at River’s Edge Park in Roanoke.
On Friday, many athletes dropped off their bikes and gear bags ahead of the race.
“It’s been superb. We have been voted some of the best bike courses, run courses, best volunteer support,” said Sarah Klemncic, volunteer director for the event.
More than 1,000 tri-athletes are expected to swim, bike, and run more than 70 miles through our part of the Blue Ridge Mountains this weekend.
One athlete says this is her second time doing an Ironman here and she loves competing in the Blue Ridge.
“I go to school here, so it’s really nice to compete right in my backyard,” said Ironman competitor Shaylyn Fahey. “I think Roanoke’s a little bit secluded, so it’s really nice to get people to come here and see how great it is.”
It’s not just the participants who are pumped for the race.
“It really brings a sense of companionship and support. The athletes have voted us one of the best races to come to just from the community support aspect. So, we actually have about 1,300 volunteer spots that are filled which is amazing,” said Klemncic.
Local businesses are getting in on the action too. One restaurant owner said they saw a big boost last year during the Ironman, and they’re hoping for an even better turnout this year.
“We are excited that it is bringing thousands of people to the Roanoke Valley and hopefully to our restaurant, families, all the athletes, anyone that is looking to come get a good meal,” said Emery Wallace, owner of Mellow Mushroom.
Now, if you are going to be out and about this weekend, many roads will be impacted, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, Lee Highway, areas throughout Downtown Roanoke, and parts of the Greenway.
The first swimmer will go into the water starting at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.
If you’re not competing, you can still come out over the weekend and support competitors at either Riverfront Park or anywhere along the Greenway where the running portion will be taking place.
Organizers remind the public that this will be the last Ironman in the Roanoke Valley for a little while, as planned construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway would have too much impact on the course.