Participants and officials counting down for Ironman competition

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Tri-athletes are arriving in Roanoke for the Carilion Clinic Ironman 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge happening Sunday.

Organizers say more than 1200 participants will be pushing their bodies with one goal in mind – to cross this line and finish the race. While finishing is the goal, the journey to complete the Ironman race will not be easy.

“So, it will be a 1.2-mile swim at Carvins Cove. 56-mile bike. That will go East and North a little bit up route 43, coming south on the Blue Ridge Parkway and then back into town here at Rivers Edge Park and then that’s followed up with a 13.1-mile run all along the Roanoke River Greenway,” said Ironman Operations Director Brandt Bernat.

Despite the difficult course, participants are looking forward to the challenge. Paul Alcorn traveled to the Star City from Atlanta and is excited to be participating for the second time.

“I feel pretty confident in the amount that I’ve trained,” said Alcorn. “So, you know it’s definitely going to be hard. I got to experience it last year. So, at least year a little bit less of a surprise, which is nice, but it’s a very challenging bike course, but it’s worth it because the ride up at the top is absolutely gorgeous.”

The Ironman Village opened to the public Friday and is open until Sunday. Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge Public Relations Director Kathryn Lucas says the race drives economic development in the city.

“Ironman is an opportunity to show off our community to visitors, both the athletes and their spectators – their friends and family that are coming with them,” said Lucas.

Residents in the valley should expect the race to impact traffic with road closures along the course.

“I highly recommend that everybody use Waze or Google Maps when they’re getting around town even if you’re a local,” added Lucas. “Road closures are posted online but they are always subject to change.”

Due to construction in the Blue Ridge Parkway, the race will be on pause starting next year.

“It gives us an opportunity to re-look at the event and, you know, figure out how we come back stronger, and our goal and intent is to come back whenever that time permits,” said Bernat.

There is no set timeline on when the race will be returning to the Blue Ridge. But organizers and participants are focusing on the race this year.