With Kona canceled, the major long-course title of the year will be up for grabs on Saturday at the 70.3 World Championships in St. George. As no one says: Utah, it’s the new Hawaii.
Although around 76% of starters are expected to be from the U.S., there will still be a competitive and full field. More than 3,000 athletes from 85 countries will compete on the popular and beautiful course, which will also play host to a two-day World Championship event in 2022. Both defending 2019 champions, Daniela Ryf and Gustav Iden, are back, along with Olympic gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt and multiple former world champions. They’ll compete for the top spot and a $350,000 prize purse divided up among the top ten men and women.
Ready to tune in and get psyched? Here’s everything you need to know about how (and who) to watch at 70.3 Worlds.
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How to watch the Ironman 70.3 World Championships
The 70.3 Worlds men’s and women’s pro race swill be streamed on Ironman Now’s Facebook Watch page, as Ironman does for all of its marquee races. Complete coverage, hosted by the Ironman commentary team, will start at 8:30 a.m. ET (6:30 a.m. MT local time) on Saturday, Sept. 18. The Ironman 70.3 World Championship Facebook page will also post updates, but not the full live stream.
For live athlete tracking, you can follow both the professional and age-group athletes on the Ironman Tracker app.
You can also follow along with the Triathlete editors on race day on Twitter at @Triathletemag and on Instagram stories as we share our firsthand perspective throughout the day. Share your posts using the hashtag #IM703WC
The 70.3 Worlds course
With the St. George 70.3 and full-Ironman events both popular destinations on the circuit, many athletes are familiar with the hilly and hot course (one of the toughest out there)—but there will be a few changes for the world championship event, most notably on the run.
Like usual, athletes start with a 1.2-mile swim in Sand Hollow Reservoir before heading west back toward St. George for a one-loop 56-mile ride, best known for its climb up Snow Canyon and very fast descent back into town. (We clocked it at about 4,000 feet of elevation over the course.) The major change for the world championship comes on the 13.1-mile run course, which will be two loops on Saturday. It starts by taking athletes out the standard route and up the tough climb they had previously biked down. But now, instead of an out-and-back, the course will drop them down the steep drop from Pioneer Park into town, make them take the roundabout, and then head back out to do it all over again before a downhill sprint to the finish. (Our bike ride of one loop of the run course showed 560 feet of elevation change in the 6.55 miles, with a sharp drop the last mile.) With a high of 89 degrees F around 4 p.m., it’ll be toasty on the exposed run—especially for the age-group women starting later in the morning.
Who to watch
Although the pro start list keeps changing with new injuries, withdrawals, COVID cancellations, and changes of plans, the men’s field will highlight a much anticipated showdown between Norwegian teammates Gustav Iden, defending champ, and Kristian Blummenfelt, who is coming off a dramatic Olympic win in Tokyo. Americans Ben Kanute and Sam Long, along with Australians Sam Appleton and 2016 champion Tim Reed will be looking to upset the duo.
Although Canadian Paula Findlay has withdrawn due to injury, the women’s field still features a deep list with defending champion Daniela Ryf facing off against British star Lucy Charles-Barclay for the first time in years. On everyone’s mind is how American 23-year-old Taylor Knibb, who has confirmed she is racing, will fit into that puzzle. Knibb, notably, has been on fire lately but has only done one 70.3 to date. 2016 champion Holly Lawrence, Australian Ellie Salthouse, Brit up-and-comer Emma Pallant-Browne, and South African Jeannie Metzler are all charging hard for that podium too.
One thing is certain: It’ll be one not to miss.
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