This weekend’s Ironman Wales may mark the end of Ironman racing in the UK and Ireland for 2012, but its sensational atmosphere amidst spectacular Pembrokeshire scenery makes it the ultimate setting for Ironman athletes.
Building on the success of the inaugural Ironman Wales last year, together with the support of the Welsh Government, the event is set to be a massive spectacle not to be missed. Over 1650 entries, a 12% increase on 2011, will be taking to the sandy beaches of Tenby this Sunday 16 September at 07:00 GMT.
Whilst a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run may deter many, an impressive 40% of entries will be embarking on an Ironman for the first time; and the locals have also embraced the challenge with 15% of entries being from Wales.
The weekend’s racing gets underway with the IronKids event on Saturday 15 September at 14:00 on North Beach. Incorporating a swim-run for 5-14 year olds, this exciting element of Ironman Wales offers youngsters the chance to be part of a world class event and to get a taste for triathlon within a competitive environment.
Leading the main race on Sunday will be a 30 strong pro field battling it out for the US$25,000 prize purse.
Meanwhile, at the start of the season, 13 inspirational athletes took up the challenge to complete all four Ironman events in the UK and Ireland: Ironman 70.3 UK, Ironman UK, Ironman 70.3 Ireland, and Ironman Wales will be the culmination of their astounding achievement.
Norman Driscoll, who when he signed up with his wife a year ago, had never competed in a triathlon before let alone an Ironman. “Ironman Wales feels far more significant now than if I was just entering a stand-alone event. The idea of a special finishers trophy and medal seemed like a good idea at the time!”
Amongst some of the 600 first time athletes is local undertaker Simon Rossiter from Tenby, who offered his services as a volunteer marshal last year and was so inspired he committed to entering this year’s event. Along with all the other athletes, Simon will be looking to cross the line within the 17 hour time limit to hear the Ironman badge of honour ‘You are an Ironman’.
The event takes place over this weekend with a range of activities for all the family. In addition to the Ironman Wales event on Sunday 16 September, there will be an Ironman Expo at the Rectory Car Park in Tenby from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th, which is free for the public to attend and a great opportunity to view and buy the latest multisport equipment.
The race starts at North Beach, located in the heart of the seaside village of Tenby, with a 2.4 mile sea swim before athletes take on a challenging 112 mile bike course through the scenic countryside of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, passing numerous castles and iconic landmarks. The Pembrokeshire coast also provides an impressive backdrop for the run through Tenby and up to New Hedges, creating one of the toughest Ironman courses in the world.
Kevin Stewart, Managing Director of Ironman UK and Ireland said, “We are really looking forward to returning to the beautiful countryside of Pembrokeshire. The breath-taking scenery offers a stunning yet challenging course with a very special atmosphere. We look forward to welcoming all the athletes and very much hope as many spectators as possible will come and be part of the race and cheer them on.”
The weekend’s events are free for spectators to come and watch. With Ironman Wales action taking place across the south of the county there are a number of opportunities and venues to view the event including: North Beach cliff, Narberth, Saundersfoot and a range of vantage points around Tenby, where the first athlete is expected to finish around 15:30 on The Esplanade.