Tarpon Springs, FL (September 20, 2007)
“Since last year’s event, our team has worked diligently to identify and implement improvements to the bike and run routes. The intended outcome is simple; a course that is safe, fair and worthy of its world championship designation. We’re confident the athletes will respond favorably to the changes,” says Event Director, Steve Meckfessel.
SWIM: Professional female athletes will start the race at 7:00 a.m., with professional male athletes beginning shortly after at 7:10 a.m. Age group athletes will be seeded in 10 waves this year, an increase from four waves in 2006, with the first of ten waves going at 7:15 a.m. The final wave will enter the water at 8 a.m. The official cutoff time for athletes to complete the 1.2 mile/1.9 km swim is 1 hour, 5 minutes, following the start of the final wave.
BIKE: The 56 mile/90.1 km bike course will travel in a clockwise direction and now incorporates primarily right-hand turns. This year’s course will no longer include the 14 mile single-lane stretch on the Courtney Campbell Causeway into Tampa. The redesigned course will provide wider lanes and a more traditional racing format for cycling, encouraging slower cyclists to use the far-right side of the lane. Athletes will be taken on a fast yet challenging route through areas of Clearwater, Palm Harbor, Largo and Pinellas Park.
RUN: Spectators and athletes alike will enjoy the 13.1 mile/21.1 km run course that now consists of two identical loops, with the turnaround point being located near the transition area at Pier 60.
For 2007, ancillary functions such as Athlete Check-in, the Ford Ironman Village and the Race Office will now be located at the Harborview Center in downtown Clearwater. Sand Key Park will remain the site for the Welcome Dinner and Awards Banquet.
Last year’s event drew nearly 13,000 in and out-of-state visitors, according to research conducted by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. In addition, the economic impact garnered from the race reached more than $3,500,000, a figure that is expected to increase on an annual basis. NBC will air the event in Spring 2008.
Professional athletes placing in the top ten will compete for a $100,000 prize purse. The top three professional male and top three professional female finishers and each age group champion will automatically qualify for the 2008 Ironman World Championship 70.3 taking place on November 8, 2008. Additionally, pro athletes placing fourth and fifth, will also receive slots to the 2008 event but will be required to validate their slots by completing an Ironman 70.3 or other long-distance event prior to the World Championship.
For media-related inquiries relating to this year’s Ford Ironman World Championship 70.3, contact Blair LaHaye at Blair@ironman.com or Jessica Weidensall at Jessica@ironman.com. For event-related inquiries, contact Athlete Service Coordinator, Jennette Harshman at Jennette@ironman.com. All parties may be reached at 727-942-4767. To view course maps or learn more about Ironman 70.3, visit www.ironman.com.
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com