By Rebecca Bailey
Once again Utah will play host to an international audience as the worldwide Ironman Triathlon comes to Provo June 8.
This is the first time the Inronman competition will be held in Utah.
More than 2,000 athletes and up to 4,000 spectators from 25 different countries are expected to inundate Utah County to participate in and support the triathlon.
“It”s a family event we”ll be proud to have in the community,” said Greg Duval, special events planner of the Provo police department.
The mayor and City Council members were briefed on the impact the race will have on the city.
“Hopefully they”ll come with tax dollars to spend and when they leave take their problems with them,” said Provo Mayor Lewis Billings.
An economic study done by organizers of Ironman Utah shows the event will bring $5 to $7 million in direct spending and up to $10 million in indirect spending to Utah County.
Matt Starley, Ironman Utah coordinator, said he expects great exposure for the Utah tourist industry with the event being aired on ESPN.
Logistics for the event will be a combined effort among the police department, government officials, and medical services, Duval said.
The June 8 Ironman will start with a 2.4 mile swim in Utah Lake, followed by a 112-mile bike race that leads to the BYU track field and concludes with a 26.2 mile run through Provo Canyon.
Of the approximately 2,000 participants in previous races, an average of 98 percent have finished the race.
BYU is a sponsor of the event and its facilities will be used during the competition.
Several hundred volunteers will be needed to assist in race activities. Those interested in volunteering can register on the Ironman Utah Web site.
The Ironman has a five-year contract with Provo that can be renewed if races prove to flow smoothly and without incident.
Fifty-seven participants are from Utah County, and 27 of those are directly from Provo.
According to the Ironman Web site, the triathlon originated from Navy Seals stationed in Hawaii who were arguing over which athlete – the runner, swimmer or cyclist – was the best.
Their commander, John Collins, resolved the issue by combining all three sports into one race, declaring the winner the most superior athlete.
The other four Ironman competitions will take place in Lake Placid, N.Y., Panama City Beach, Fla., Madison, Wis. and Penticton, B.C., Canada.