It is the largest Half Ironman in the world, but not everyone in Augusta knows what it’s all about, said Augusta Sports Council CEO Brinsley Thigpen said.
She wants everyone to know you don’t have to compete in the fourth annual Ironman 70.3 Augusta to soak in the event.
“I think a lot of people know we have the event here, but they don’t necessarily come downtown and experience it,” she said. “Being a spectator, you’re part of the event.”
The fourth annual Ironman 70.3 Augusta will kicks off next Sunday. The event begins with a 1.2-mile swim in the Savannah River, continues with a 56-mile bike ride into South Carolina and finishes with a 13.1-mile run through downtown Augusta.The only significant change to this year’s event is the finish line will be on Broad Street in front of the Augusta Common instead of runners heading down Reynolds Street and finishing at the common.
With 3,466 participants, the Augusta event, which is in the first year of a new three-year deal with World Triathlon Corporation, remains the largest Ironman 70.3 in the world. And it’s arguably the most popular, the event selling out two months ago.
“We’re in an awesome location to draw from the Southeast,” Augusta Sports Council sports development manager Randy DuTeau said. “There’s a real big convenience factor.”
Location isn’t the only draw for the event. DuTeau said the Augusta Ironman is well-organized and the course is scenic. Also, he added, there’s another key factor: Southern hospitality around town.
DuTeau said he could tell the impact of the race when he recently wore an Ironman shirt around town. A Waffle House waitress and a Publix employee each talked about the Half Ironman’s impact.
“It just resonates with people,” he said. “So when people come from out of town and they know the course is good and they know the support is going to be there, it makes a difference.”
Thigpen said because of the amount of competitors, the race will need more than 1,000 volunteers. She said the sports council still is in need of about 400 people to help with tasks ranging from assisting with athlete check-in, to spotting on the river to picking up gear after the race.