The expansion of Ironman continues, as World Triathlon Corp (WTC) confirms that a new annual Ironman 70.3 championship event will be staged in Auckland next January.
Ironman 70.3 Auckland 2013 will be designated as the official Asia Pacific Championship. This provides an additional opportunity for athletes to qualify for the annual Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Las Vegas, USA. Entries for the inaugural event open on Tuesday 24 July.
The race, taking place on Sunday 20 January 2013, will showcase iconic Auckland landscapes with a swim in the Viaduct Harbour, a bike course that includes the Auckland Harbour Bridge and a run along the Auckland waterfront.
Ironman 70.3 Auckland brings the Ironman Series, ‘the largest participation sports platform in the world’, full circle back to Auckland. The city was the first international race venue chosen when the Ironman brand began its global growth in the mid-80’s. Today the brand continues to grow with more than 30 Ironman and 60 Ironman 70.3 races around the world each year over 150,000 participants annually.
A mainstay in the Ironman Series, Ironman New Zealand was staged in Auckland for 14 years, based at Mission Bay and then St Heliers, before moving to Taupo in 1999. The race has attracted more than 22,000 participants, more than half from overseas.
Ironman 70.3 Auckland is expected to attract more than 1,200 professional and age group participants annually including a significant number of international athletes. The event will offer a professional prize purse of US$75,000, 1,500 professional points for the elite field and 45 age group qualifying slots for the Ironman World Championship 70.3.
“New Zealand and Auckland hold a special place in the history of Ironman and the sport of triathlon,” said Andrew Messick, CEO of World Triathlon Corporation. “When the Ironman team began to expand the event series globally, Auckland was chosen as the first international venue.
“Over the years, New Zealand has embraced the sport of triathlon with an unmatched enthusiasm while producing incredible talent. It’s fitting to bring a major championship to New Zealand and to the magnificent city of Auckland.”
Ironman 70.3 Auckland will provide on-going annual economic benefit as well as international exposure for the city of Auckland, according to event sponsors, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).
ATEED’s Acting General Manager Destination, Jennah Wootten said the timing of the event during the height of Auckland’s New Year programme is well placed. “It’s been nearly 30 years since Auckland hosted the inaugural Ironman event and we are delighted to be back on the international calendar, providing exclusive access to a world-class course.
“The race village is set on Auckland’s Viaduct and just minutes from the athletes’ and supporters’ accommodation. You couldn’t ask for better for an event of this size,” said Wootten.
Ironman legend Cameron Brown believes the new event will be a boon for the sport and for his city. “Much of my passion for the sport came from those days as a kid watching Ironman from along the Auckland waterfront,” said Brown, 10-time Ironman New Zealand Champion. “To now have the opportunity to race in an Ironman 70.3 event in my home town, and a major championship at that, is going to be very special. I can only hope a whole new generation of young kiwis get the same buzz from Ironman 70.3 Auckland and take up the sport.”
Brown added, “The Ironman 70.3 races are booming around the world for both professionals like myself as well as keen amateurs. I am a proud Aucklander and this is a chance to show our city off to the world.”
The event will be based at the Viaduct Events Centre. The course comprises a 1.9K one-lap swim in the Viaduct Harbour, a 90K bike course over the Harbour Bridge followed by a two-lap city section to St Heliers, and a 21.1K two-lap run along the Auckland waterfront. The finish line will be in the heart of Wynyard Quarter with the stunning city skyline as a backdrop.