Kevin Mackinnon previews the inaugural Ironman in St. George, Utah
Gearing up for Ford Ironman St. GeorgeIt’s hard to say what’s more exciting about Saturday’s Ford Ironman St. George – the impressive pro and age group field that is set to compete or the spectacular course they’ll enjoy. Set in the sports and active-living paradise of St. George which offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States, Saturday’s race promises to be a special one.
Highlighting the men’s pro field on Saturday will be a number of Ironman champions including Hungary’s Josef Major, Australia’s Chris McDonald and the Czech Republic’s Petr Vabrousek, along with Australian Luke Bell and Portugal’s Sergio Marques, who have yet to win an Ironman event but have a number of runner-up Ironman finishes on their resumes.
The women’s field is even more jam-packed with Ironman champions. New Zealand’s Gina Ferguson has racked up four Ironman wins since the fall of 2007, not to mention a recent runner-up finish at Ironman New Zealand. Add former Ironman champions like Australia’s Kate Major, Canadian Heather Wurtele and American Caitlin Snow and you have the makings of a phenomenal women’s race.
While one of St. George’s most popular tourist spots, Zion National State Park won’t be part of the course (the park, rated by Trip Advisor as America’s top state park, is a 40-minute drive from downtown) the course will include some dramatic scenery, including Sand Hollow Reservoir, Snow Canyon and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
There will be 65 qualifying slots available to the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in addition to a professional prize purse of $50,000.
The day begins with a swim at the Sand Hollow Reservoir. The bike course will lead athletes through the towns of Hurricane and Washington before making its way toward the city of St. George. At the end of a picturesque, two-loop section, the bike course will offer views of Snow Canyon before heading into downtown. After entering transition in St. George’s historic Town Square, athletes will begin the two-loop marathon course that heads out for a climb toward Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. This challenging course will wind through Pioneer Park, neighborhoods along Diagonal Street, with a turnaround point located at Main and Tabernacle Streets. The race will finish alongside Heritage Tower with a backdrop of downtown St. George.
We’ll have live coverage of Saturday’s race right here on Ironman.com, including text updates, pictures, live timing and athlete tracking along with live video. Check out the photo tab on our live coverage for some spectacular photos from the St. George area.