This weekend marks the start of IRONMAN racing in the UK for the 9th annual IRONMAN 70.3 in Exmoor. This iconic event, which was the first ever IRONMAN 70.3 race to be staged, is now one of over seventy 70.3 races worldwide.
The weekend kicks off with an IRONKIDS run for over 200 children aged 3-14 on Saturday 14th June, followed by a sell out 1900 athletes taking to Wimbleball Lake at 7am on Sunday 15th June for the 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 UK.
Both athletes and spectators are in for a rare treat with warm and sunny conditions set to stay for the weekend. The lake temperature has risen to 16.4 degrees, which will be a welcome start for the athlete’s 1.2 mile open water swim before they embark on a two lap 56 mile bike course which entails an eye watering 52 hills and 1190m of climbing; And the hills don’t end there as the athletes will then set off on a 13.1 half marathon over mixed terrain, each of the three laps with its very own gruelling hill climb.
Amongst the Pro athletes, the men’s field promises some exciting racing from a strong British field; A late withdrawal from Tim Don enables defending Champion and course record holder Ritchie Nicholls, to be the firm favourite. However former Olympian Will Clarke, also joins the start line with a year of 70.3 racing under his belt as a strong contender and will be looking to better his 4th place in 2013. Having already secured 3 podium IRONMAN 70.3 finishes this year he has strong reason to do so.
Two further British entries in contention for the podium are IRONMAN UK winner Dan Halksworth, who will be competing for Jersey in the Commonwealth Games next month and Paul Hawkins returning from injury last year.
Amongst a small female Pro field two-time defending Champion and IRONMAN UK winner Eimear Mullan, will be on track for the treble. Having also recently been selected for the Commonwealth Games, Mullan will be ready to face the challenging terrain course that Exmoor never fails to deliver.
Assuming Mullan races to form, a tough race looms for second and third place between Vanessa Raw and Amy Forshaw. Whilst a novice to IRONMAN racing this season, Raw’s career in Olympic distance racing will have set her up well for Wimbleball and a tussle with Amy Forshaw is anticipated as she, like Clarke, will be looking to improve on last year’s fourth place.
Kevin Stewart, Managing Director of IRONMAN UK said, “We are really looking forward to a fantastic weekend of racing. We are very excited to be expanding our IRONKIDS series and giving everyone from the age of 3 to 76 the chance to be part of IRONMAN 70.3 and enjoy the stunning setting of Wimbleball and Exmoor’s National Park. We would love to see as many people as possible cheering them on in this first of a sold-out IRONMAN UK season.”