With a few races last fall and a couple taking place already in 2021, it feels like we’ve been easing back into the normal flow of triathlon season. While the inclusion of COVID-19 safety protocols means it won’t be exactly “racing as usual,” this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 North American Championships in St. George, Utah, will be as close to “normal” racing as we’ve seen in well over a year. Most events during the pandemic have hosted limited fields, but that won’t be the case this Saturday in southern Utah. Ironman reports there are 3,500 registered participants, ranging in age from 18 to 80 years old.
In addition to the massive age-group field, there will be over 100 pros vying for their share of the $100,000 prize purse. Ready to tune in to see the pros duke it out and get some inspiration for an upcoming event? Here’s everything you need to know.
How to Watch
As it has done for its marquee races for the last few years, Ironman will broadcast the event on Facebook Live via the Ironman Now channel. Comprehensive coverage of the entire race will begin at 6:40 a.m. MT/8:40 a.m. ET. Former pro athletes Michael Lovato and Dede Griesbauer will host the show, with Matt Lieto providing on-course commentary.
For live athlete tracking, you can follow both the professional and age-group athletes on the Ironman Tracker app.
The Iconic Course
Tuning in will guarantee you’ll catch a peek at one of the gorgeous on-course views. Known for chilly water temperature, tough hills on the bike and run, and volatile weather forecasts, Ironman 70.3 St. George is as tough as they come. 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 finishing in the middle of town. The 13.1-mile run course takes athletes on a tough out-and-back, concluding at Main Street in the heart of downtown St. George. It will be a warm day out on course, with the forecast currently showing a high of 93 degrees F.
This same course will also host the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championships, set for Sept. 17-18, 2021.
Who to Watch
As a long-time host of championship-level racing and a popular event among pros, Ironman 70.3 St. George has a history of big-name winners. 2019 champions Rudy Von Berg (USA) and Holly Lawrence (GBR) are returning to the tough course in pursuit of a repeat victory.
Other big names in the men’s field include 2018 winner Lionel Sanders (CAN), Ben Hoffman (USA), Sam Long (USA), Jackson Laundry (CAN), Michael Raelert (GER), Ben Kanute (USA), David McNamee (GBR), Andreas Dreitz (GER), and Matt Hanson (USA). While those are the most well-known names on the start list, don’t be surprised to see an up-and-comer break onto the podium. With so little racing over the past 18 months, it’s likely someone is ready to breakthrough and just hasn’t had the chance to show it on a race course. There are 69 men on the start list, so expect to see some interesting dynamics play out in the final meters of the swim and onto the bike course.
In the women’s race, all eyes will be on four-time Ironman world champion Daniela Ryf (SUI). After focusing on things other than triathlon since the Ironman World Championship in 2019, Ryf proved she’s still the best with a dominant victory at Ironman 70.3 Dubai last month. Ryf very rarely chooses to race in the United States, so it will be exciting to watch her battle it out against top names. In addition to Lawrence, she’ll face tough competition from Challenge Daytona winner Paula Findlay (who also won this race in 2018). Other athletes to watch include Meredith Kessler (USA), Skye Moench (USA), Sarah Crowley (AUS), Emma Pallant (GBR), Carrie Lester (USA), Linsey Corbin (USA), and Jeanni Metzler (RSA). See the complete start list here.