Inaugural Ironman Augusta was world's largest

Organizers of Augusta's inaugural Ironman competition declared the event the world's largest of its kind after tabulating final participation numbers Monday, and they said it had an economic impact more than twice what was originally projected.

About 3,000 athletes from a registered pool of more than 3,400 competed Sunday in the ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta, said Tammy Stout, the executive director of the Augusta Sports Council.

"Our no-show ratio ran a little below the norm for Ironman events," Ms. Stout said. "We hosted this year the largest one in the world."

She said officials revised estimates of economic impact from more than $2 million to $4.7 million.

Maj. Richard Weaver of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office estimated that the crowd reached between 5,000 and 6,000 people at its peak.

After factoring in the 3,000 athletes, Ms. Stout said she thought the number was closer to 10,000 people, based on registration surveys completed Friday and Saturday. About 650 people served as volunteers.

The survey revealed athletes stayed in town an average of 2.5 nights and brought three people.

"I think the event met our expectations in every way," Ms. Stout said. "The competitors loved the course. They were impressed by the community support."

City Administrator Fred Russell said he thought the competition drew a good crowd.

"My informal survey of talking to the people who were downtown and looking in restaurants is that they were full and everyone was having a good time," he said.

Organizers were taking notes about how they can improve next year's Ironman, for which Ms. Stout said 50 people already have registered.

"We absolutely anticipate being a sellout event by the first of the year," she said.

Reach Erin Zureick at (706) 823-3215 or erin.zureick@augustachronicle.com.