Tammy Stout knew she had a winner on her hands when she saw an Augusta minister on the edge of the street, cheering runners on in the inaugural ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta event.
She also heard reports of a family banging pots and pans in its front yard as participants traveled the bike course.
"We've gotten such great reviews from thousands of visitors," said Stout, the executive director of the Augusta Sports Council. "The rumor is that Augusta has truly embraced the event."
The half Ironman event returns Sept. 26 and will feature more than 3,000 triathletes competing in a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike race and 13.1-mile run.
The 2009 event set a record as the largest half Ironman event in the world. Stout said 3,200 participants are registered for this year's event.
"I am told we are maintaining that designation again this year," she said.
Event organizer Bill Burke said the course won't change. Participants will start with the swim at the Riverfront Marina, then exit the water near the Augusta Boathouse. From there they will embark on a 56-mile bike ride that takes them into South Carolina and back, and the final leg is the run through downtown Augusta that finishes at Augusta Common.
"Everything is going great," Burke said. "We're right where we need to be in our planning. The event was a huge success last year."
Burke said the Augusta event is the last chance for triathletes to qualify for the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3, which will be held Nov. 13 in Clearwater, Fla.
"If you tried to qualify and haven't been able to do it, this is the last race to do it," Burke said.
Last year's pro divisions were won by the husband-wife duo of Greg and Laura Bennett.
Several events will be held in conjunction with the competition, and Stout said more than 800 volunteers will be put to use. More than a dozen hotels are booked, she said, and the city is expecting another big economic windfall.
The Ironman has a deal with Augusta through 2011, but Stout is hungry for more.
"I'm looking forward to negotiating an extension after the 2010 event," she said. "We've got a three-year contract, and I'm pushing for an extension."
Race-day road closings
STREET DIRECTION/LANE FROM TO TIME
East Boundary southbound Reynolds Street Greene Street 4 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sand Bar Ferry east East Boundary Old Jackson Highway 7-10:30
Old Jackson Highway southeast Sand Bar Ferry Atomic Road* 8-11 a.m.
Atomic Road* north Old Jackson Hwy SRS Road 1 8-11 a.m.
SRS Road 1 east Atomic Road* South Carolina 8:30 a.m.-noon Highway 19
South Carolina Highway 19 north SRS Road 1 Old Whiskey Road 9 a.m.-noon
Old Whiskey Road north South Carolina Cherryvale Ave 9 a.m.-noon Highway 19
Cherryvale Avenue west Old Whiskey Road Woodland Dr 9 a.m.-noon
Woodland Drive south Cherryvale Avenue U.S. Highway 278 9 a.m.-noon
Gray Mare Hollow west U.S. Highway 278 Silver Bluff Road 9 a.m.-noon (South Carolina Highway 302)
Silver Bluff Road north Gray Mare Hollow Boyd Pond Road 9 a.m.-noon
Boyd Pond Road west Silver Bluff Road Horse Creek Road 9 a.m.-noon
Horse Creek Road north Boyd Pond Road Herndon Dairy Road 9 a.m.-noon
Herndon Dairy Road west Boyd Pond Road Pine Log Road. 9 a.m.-noon
Pine Log Road south Herndon Dairy Road Atomic Road* 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Atomic Road* west Pine Log Road Cloverleaf over 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sand Bar Ferry Road
Sand Bar Ferry west Cloverleaf Prep Phillips Drive 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
*South Carolina Highway 125
STREET DIRECTION/LANE FROM TO TIME
East Boundary south Reynolds Street Greene Street 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Greene Street east East Boundary 13th Street
13th Street north Greene Street Broad Street
Broad Street east 13th Street East Boundary
Broad Street west East Boundary 12th Street
12th Street Broad Street Jones Street
Jones Street 12th Street 10th Street
10th Street Jones Street Reynolds Street
Reynolds Street 10th Street Bay Street
Bay Street Reynolds Street Reynolds Street
Reynolds Street Bay Street East Boundary
NO PARKING AREAS
- Broad Street (eastbound), from 13th Street to East Boundary, all day Sunday
- Broad Street (westbound), from East Boundary to 12th Street
- Reynolds Street, from East Boundary to Bay Street
- Broad Street, center parking only, from 13th Street to Fourth Street
ALSO OF NOTE
- Gordon Highway ramps will be closed at Broad and Bay streets from 4 a.m.-6 p.m.
- The Fifth Street Bridge will be closed from 4 a.m.-10 a.m.
- Athletes will use only one lane for the bike and run course. Major intersections will be controlled by law enforcement personnel.
- Fort Gordon soldiers will man side streets.
IRONMAN OF THE DAY
NAME: Samuel Herberg
OCCUPATION: MCG researcher
EXPERIENCE: The Augusta ESi race is Herberg's first Ironman, but he is an experienced distance runner and cyclist.
GAME PLAN: Herberg, who moved to Augusta from Munich, Germany, two years ago, has trained for the race by practicing on the actual race course. Training has been a way for him to make new friends. "To me, there's no better way of making new friends than by sharing what you love to do," he said. Herberg is running the race as a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, which raises money for research. "Keeping in mind the overall goal of helping to find a cure for blood cancer, both as an athlete and as a scientist, keeps me going."
-- Gracie Shepherd, staff writer