Augusta organizers, participants prepare for Ironman competition
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - This weekend Augusta will host one of the largest and fastest half Ironman races in North America.
Thousands of people are either on their way or are already in the garden city to prepare for the triathlon competition testing their swimming, biking, and running skills.
But there are some big changes this year.
“Could be your first time or your 20th time, you’re nervous. But once you get started, the nerves, they go really fast. Then you just kind of settle into a rhythm,” said runner Jeff Spires.
Spires hasn’t always been a runner.
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“I started late. I started when I was about 47,” he said.
He says fear became his motivator.
“The fear for what I used to be. I was about a two pack a day smoker for about 30 years, was in pretty rough shape,” said Spires.
This year, he’s hitting the pavement for his 12th half Ironman in Augusta.
“I’m looking to not be as impatient as I’ve been in the past, a start out too fast. And it really, really slows my run down in the later part,” he said.
More than 2,000 athletes will swim, bike, and run a total of 70.3 miles. 13.1 of which organizers say will be a brand new course.
“We’ve done little changes, but I don’t think we’ve done anything as drastic as this,” said Organizer Troy Fitzgerald.
Last year, runners faced an unexpected roadblock causing a time delay at the railroad track they didn’t train for.
For the first time in over a decade, the course is changing.
“The run course is totally new that mainly goes on the Riverwalk and still goes through all the spectator friendly areas downtown,” said Fitzgerald.
The cannon will sound at 7 a.m., starting with a 1.2 mile swim further up the river next to SRP Park in North Augusta, finishing under the Fifth Street Bridge.
Next is the 56 mile bike route that will take bikers down Gordon Highway. It stays the same this year, and racers finish off with a 13.1 mile run.
Organizers of the Ironman 70.3 Augusta have announced some road closures for the event. Click HERE to see those road closures.
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