Augusta Sports Council tries to keep Ironman going strong

Braylin Bennett (center) went onto the track near the finish line to run the last few yards with her dad, Joseph Bennett (left) at the ESi Ironman 70.3. More than 3,000 competitors participated.

Maxim Kriat doesn’t have to worry about what challenges the ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta could throw at him.

“I feel like I know almost every turn, every curve,” said Kriat, who finished second Sunday, first in 2010 and fifth in 2009.

Kriat has competed in the ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta all three years, but he’s only one example of how participants and fans keep coming back every year.

Brinsley Thigpen, the Augusta Sports Council’s chief executive officer, said what makes the race such a success is it is fan friendly, especially with this year’s closing of Broad Street from East Boundary to 13th Street for the benefit of both watchers and competitors.

“Our Ironmen and women can bring guests to Augusta and enjoy the city,” Thigpen said. “We heard great feedback from athletes, volunteers and staff. The athletes specifically commented on how nice everyone was and how great the venues are. That’s a testament to the community.”

Thigpen said there will be a debriefing “when the dust settles,” which is when more in-depth discussions will take place about how the event went this year.

Also, though the final decision to possibly expand the number of allowed participants isn’t up to the council, Thigpen said the first goal is to focus on safety and to not expand the event just to say it’s bigger.

The sports council and World Triathlon Corp. announced in August that the event would be held in Augusta through 2014.

Though many have set their sights on returning for next year’s ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta, there is a busy slate of races until next year.

Kriat is looking at competing at the Rohto Ironman 70.3 Miami on Oct. 30, though the big one is the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, which will be held next September in Las Vegas. Sunday’s ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta, separated by almost a year from the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, was one of the qualifying races.

Emma-Kate Lidbury, Augusta’s women’s champion on Sunday, took a four-minute bike penalty at this year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

But on her visit to Augusta, Lidbury captured the city’s title for her third 70.3 win this year.

“There’s so much crowd support everywhere,” Lidbury said. “It feels like the whole town is behind it.”

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Sun, 04/30/2017 - 01:23

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