WITH only a couple of days to go, athletes are preparing themselves for one of the toughest endurance events ever.
The 2013 IronMan triathlon takes place this Sunday and while the Pro field will be looking for qualifying points towards their Kona Pro rankings as well as battling it out for the $25,000 prize fund, all of the athletes will be completing the same course and hoping to cross the finish line within the 17 hour time limit and the goal they’ve worked so hard for, to gain the Ironman badge of glory.
The last two triathlons have been hugely successful and this year’s race is once again being held in and around Tenby.
Athletes have to train vigorously for this event and it could take up to nine months before you can consider yourself ready for an IronMan triathlon.
The triathlon is a gruelling competition with competitors having to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles before running a complete 26.2 mile marathon – all without a break. It is also the longest of the different types of triathlon.
Compared to the Olympics, the athletes this weekend will be competing over a much greater distance. Last year saw Alistair Brownlee and Jonathon Brownlee take Gold and Bronze respectively but they competed over a shorter distance.
The Olympic athletes had to swim for just under a mile, cycle 25 miles and run for 6.2 miles.
The IronMan athletes have to travel a lot further and have put in hours of dedication just to be ready for the race this Sunday.
Last year approximately 1,500 athletes, representing more than 40 countries turned up to take part and this year’s event is set to be even bigger.
Just over 1,600 athletes are taking part this year and the ages of those taking part ranges from the youngest at 18 to the oldest at 74 years old. Over 10,000 spectators are also expected to visit the area to cheer them on.
The resort of Tenby offers some spectacular views making it an ideal place to hold the race.
The swim course for Ironman Wales takes place on the beautiful North Beach in Tenby and consists of a two loop course totalling 3.8k in distance.
The bike course consists of a two loop course totalling 180 kilometres of spectacular coastal views through idyllic towns giving riders over 2,000 metres of altitude difference throughout the course.
The first loop is longer, extending west from Lamphey to Angle peninsula and Pembroke, returning through Lamphey before turning north through Carew and Templeton to reach Narberth. From Narberth the course travels south through Saundersfoot to return to Tenby via St Brides Hill.
On the second lap, cyclists turn east in Lamphey to repeat the same route through Narberth and Saundersfoot to reach the transition point in Tenby.
Finally, the marathon course takes place in and around the picturesque town of Tenby. Exiting the transition along South Cliff Street, turning left onto South Parade skirting the town wall, travelling north towards New Hedges. It returns on the same route but continues into the heart of this historic town, taking in The Croft and the harbour.
The course is a four loop run, each loop consisting of just over 10 kilometres of running, before swinging left onto Tenby’s Esplanade to reach the finish line making up the full distance.
Residents are warned that some roads will be closed throughout the day to ensure that the event runs smoothly.
Pembrokeshire County Council has set up an interactive online map so that visitors and residents can see which roads are likely to be affected by the event and when.
Live Facebook and Twitter feeds will also be streamed on the day to keep people updated on road closures/openings, incidents and race information.
The event will also be given worldwide TV coverage and the intense nature of the sport is likely to attract a good audience.
“We have been thrilled at the turnouts over the last two years for Ironman Wales and hope that this year’s event will be equally, if not more, successful,” said Deputy Leader, Councillor Rob Lewis.
“Ironman Wales is now recognized by the Welsh Government as one of the most iconic events held in the country,” he said.
“It gives us a wonderful opportunity to put our county on the tourist map as host of one of the biggest – and also one of the most arduous – sporting events in the world.
“Those of us who live here know how beautiful Pembrokeshire is and with this event being given worldwide TV coverage we have a great opportunity to advertise it across the globe.”
The event starts at 7am when competitors enter the sea at North Beach for the swimming leg of the triathlon. Once out of the water they then embark on a bike ride across the south of the county – following the route of last year’s event – before the final marathon stage through Tenby.
Councillor Lewis said that because of the nature of the event there was likely to be a gap in time between the first entrants home and the last, necessitating road closures for much of the day in some areas.
“However I hope that residents will bear with us and give the event their full support,” he said.
To find the digital map, log onto the Council’s dedicated Ironman website: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/
The competition is set to be fierce and is not for the faint hearted but IronMan Wales 2013 is not one to be missed.