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IRONMAN race brings 2,500 athletes to Roanoke Sunday

Preparations for the IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia's Blue Ridge are underway.
Preparations for the IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia's Blue Ridge are underway.(WDBJ7)
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Preparation is underway for Sunday’s inaugural Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

“We like to offer unique opportunities and experiences for our athletes,” said Brandt Bernat, IRONMAN’s race director.

2,500 competitors will get just that Sunday as they complete a 1.2-mile swim through Carvins Cove, a 56-mile bike ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and a 13.1-mile run on the Roanoke Greenway.

“It’s a very outdoor community that’s been welcoming and so that’s really what attracted us to Roanoke,” said Bernat.

Triathletes from 49 states and several countries are set to participate this weekend. They’re expected to bring a $5-10 million economic boost to area businesses.

“Most of these athletes, we’ll find, have never been to Virginia, in many cases, and Roanoke, for sure,” said Landon Howard, President of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. “They’re coming here and they’re seeing what a special place we are and it can’t do anything but help our image and economic development.”

With so many competitors, covering so much ground, there will be road closures.

But there will also be plenty of viewing opportunities for fans and community members both at the IRONMAN Village or along the route.

“We’ll live stream some of the swim and bike course down here at River’s Edge Park, but if they’re going to cheer on the athletes in the community here, they can go different places along the bike course and the run course and pop a lawn chair with a cowbell, if they will, and cheer on the athletes,” said Bernat.

So if swimming, running, and biking a combined 70.3 miles isn’t quite your speed, but you want to participate in the event, you can visit the IRONMAN Village Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and check out the vendors or watch some of the race Sunday. There will also be a beer garden at the village Sunday.

For more information on the course layout or road closures, click here.

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