While many of the event participants in previous years have come in from many states and countries, another large contingent from the surrounding area have made the Ironman event an annual staple.
“We have people who see it and want to do it,” Thigpen said. “We’re a healthier city because of it.”
The intermedix Ironman 70.3 Augusta will be held next Sunday in downtown Augusta, beginning at 7:30 a.m. In its fifth year, the wildly-popular competition sold out in early June, a month ahead of schedule, Thigpen said. She said almost 3,500 people have registered, making it the largest intermedix Ironman 70.3 Augusta to date.
“That just shows the popularity of the event,” she said. “They love it and I think they love it for a lot of reasons. The feedback we get is the people of Augusta are so nice, and they love our volunteers.”
Though planning for the race started several months ago, Thigpen said there’s plenty of work still left to do. Already, the sports council has lined up things like permits to use the Savannah River as well as permits for the run and cycling portions in Aiken and Richmond counties. Also, the sports council has lined up more than 1,000 volunteers but is still seeking more.
Race director A.J. Sills of the World Triathlon Corporation has already visited Augusta twice this year and will be here Monday. He and his fellow organizers will do things like drive the course to make sure all potholes are filled and tie other loose ends.
Supply trucks arrived last week, and work has already started at the transition area by The Boathouse. And now the sports council will touch base with various groups (medical support, police, volunteers, etc.) to make sure everything is in order.
“Every year is a new year. You can’t get to a point where you just say you’ve done this before,” Thigpen said. “You have to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’. We have to make sure everything is double- and triple-checked.”
One of the premier pre-race events will be the Ironman Village at the Augusta Convention Center. The expo will run Friday (noon to 7 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) and will feature merchandise booths and vendors.
Thigpen said she’d like to see more folks in the community soak in the Augusta Ironman event. And they don’t have to be athletes.
“You don’t have to be an Ironman to enjoy the event,” she said.