News 12 @ 6 o'clock, September 25, 2009
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. --- Augusta's Ironman kicks off Sunday (September 27), and tonight, thousands of people are already in town for the more than 70-mile triathlon.
And what a workout! They'll be swimming in the Savannah River, biking in Aiken, and then running the last leg of the race back into downtown Augusta.
But keeping the bikers safe is seemingly a challenge for law enforcement. Ironman bikers are already out on the 56-mile stretch of Aiken County highways that deputies are struggling to secure.
"It's been tough. We really don't have those numbers to pull from our two shifts that are currently working. We had to go out and ride the course to figure out what intersections were more high risk than others," said Sgt. Dave Myers with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.
Sergeant Dave Myers says Aiken County's been planning for Ironman since June. The hardest part is finding enough help to work the stretch. Including at least 30 intersections where more than 3000 bikers will be riding.
Aiken county says they plan to have additional help at busy intersections like here at Pine Log and Williston Road. They say it's all in an effort to make sure the bikers and motorists are safe on the roadways.
Deputies will start with bikers on Sandbar Ferry Road and go through Jackson onto highway one into New Ellenton. From there, they'll head onto Gray Mare Hollow Road, then take the long stretch from Pine Log Road back to Sandbar Ferry. I even drove the course just to get a feel for how far the race is and it's definitely no walk in the park.
"The Ironman itself carries a very marketable label. You think Ironman and you think wow, it's half but that's still a lot of distance to go," said Sgt. Myers.
It's a distance Aiken County deputies are trying to make sure they have enough man power to cover. Deputies say the roads where bikers will be riding will NOT be closed. They'll be directing traffic and letting bikers through.