In a small seaside town of Tenby, where triathlon had never before had any presence, the local community came out in droves to support the athletes with great enthusiasm and excitement.
This year the race returns and marks the end of the British summer, and IRONMAN racing, in the UK for 2012. Building on the success from last year and along with the support of the Welsh Government, numbers have increased from last year to over 1,650 athletes.
It is true to say that IRONMAN Wales provides a demanding level of difficulty across all three disciplines that cannot be found anywhere else. You don’t just have to be physically fit to take on the Welsh landscape, you have to be an extremely hardy, perhaps also slightly mad and have a healthy side serving of stubborn. You would think only seasoned triathletes would take on such a challenge, but this weekend will see an amazing 600 athletes embarking on their first IRONMAN!
The two-lap swim takes place on North Beach; a golden stretch of sandy beach that features the very prominent Goskar Rock. The North Cliffs and Tenby town overlooks the beach, providing spectators a spectacular vantage point of the swim. Water temperature is less than inviting as it hovers around 16 degrees Celsius and can be choppy. On finishing the swim athletes then have a ‘climb’ up the cliffs to transition. This is one long transition; no records will be broken here.
The bike course is two unique loops and takes athletes through Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, passing numerous castles and iconic landmarks. The spectacular coastal views through idyllic towns athletes will be afforded should hopefully help numb the 2,000 meters of climbing they will encounter over the 180 km.
The four-loop run course does not offer any reprieve. Intensely demanding, it has been hailed as one of the toughest run courses in the world. Taking place in and around the picturesque town of Tenby, athletes are in for a historical run through local landmarks, passing The Croft and the Harbour before heading home to the warm welcome and fanfare at the finish line in Tenby’s Esplanade.
In the men’s race Daniel Halksworth took his first title back in July at IRONMAN UK. The Brit is in Wales and looking to add title number two to his breakthrough season. Standing in his way is a host of European athletes, with Frenchman Sylcia Nova expected to take the challenge to Halksworth.
In the women’s race, Irelands Eimear Mullan has had an outstanding year. Winning 70.3 UK, IRONMAN UK and runner up in 70.3 Gallway two weeks ago, she headlines the field here and is known for her strength and resilience on a tough run course. Taking a trip across the pond, America’s Hillary Biscay has notched up more IRONMAN races than you can ever imagine and, on the back of IRONMAN Wisconsin last weekend, the Iron Machine headlines the field looking to stop Mullan adding another title to her bag this season.
This article originally appeared on ironman.com