On Sunday, April 11, triathletes from around the world took on the 2021 Ironman 70.3 Texas triathlon out of Galveston, Texas. The event marked the first Ironman-produced event on U.S. soil for 2021. Ironman was able to put on a few U.S. based events in 2020, including Ironman 70.3 Arizona and Ironman Florida, where they tested and implemented their Safe Return to Racing operating principles. Most of those same operations were in place for the 70.3 Texas event, with many athletes taking advantage of the opportunity to race for the first time in well over a year.
The course took athletes on a 1.2-mile one-loop saltwater swim in the Offatts Bayou, on a 56-mile out-and-back bike course along the Texas Gulf Coast, and the finished with a 13.1-mile, four-loop half-marathon through Moody Gardens and along the water. In addition to hundreds of age-group athletes, a strong pro field showed up eager for the chance to test the racing skills and potentially earn a paycheck. Ultimately it was Canada’s Lionel Sanders (3:42:20) and the United States’ Skye Moench (4:10:01) who earned the victories. Enjoy images from photographer Paul Higgins below.
Ironman started implementing rolling starts (as opposed to mass or wave starts) four years ago. Though not specifically designed for COVID-19 purposes, the rolling starts have been key in Ironman’s ability to put on events while keeping athletes at a safe distance from each other. Pictured here: volunteers hold signs for the self-seeded corrals before the swim start.
The pro men’s field was stacked. With racing opportunities so limited over the last 12 months, several athletes traveled far to get to Galveston for the chance to compete.
Athletes take their masks off and get ready for their turn to start the day of racing.
Athletes are required to wear race-provided masks until right before they enter the swim.
The rolling start does mean athletes have to wait patiently for their turn to get in the water.
It looks different, but athletes are excited to be back to racing!
The sun rises over Galveston ahead of an ideal day for racing.
Athletes’ bikes await them in transition ahead of 56 miles of riding.
Canada’s Lionel Sanders is a fan favorite and he proved why on Sunday with a 2:01:44 bike split.
Heads down, focused, and grateful to be competing.
Ironman 70.3 Texas was the first U.S. Ironman event of the year, and there are several more on the calendar for a hopefully-packed 2021 triathlon season.
The United States’ Skye Moench was on the fast track to Ironman stardom when she crashed her bike ahead of the 2019 Ironman World Championship. The pandemic followed, and you can bet she’s glad to be back to racing.
Ironman 70.3 Texas has a reputation for volatile weather, but Galveston provided ideal conditions on Sunday.
Sanders turns in a 1:11:11 half-marathon on his way to narrowly beating the United States’ Ben Kanute.
Sanders takes the victory in 3:42:20. Kanute finished second, with Sam Long in third.
Moench crosses the line in first. Jeanni Metzler finished second, with Sophie Watts rounding the podium.