WILMINGTON — The PPD IRONMAN Triathlon is set for Saturday, Oct. 22, across the Wilmington area as hundreds of triathletes from all over the world converge on the Port City for this premiere event.
While the point-to-point course from Wrightsville Beach to the USS North Carolina Battleship will still serve as qualifying, with 50 age-group slots for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew have caused race officials to shorten the race this year.
While New Hanover County, including Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach is back to business as usual, hundreds of citizens in surrounding inland counties along the bike course have been forced from their residences, with damage incalculable at this time.
Flood damage to the outer-loop of the IRONMAN bike course will not allow those roads to be utilized for the race. Due to this, the IRONMAN triathlon will now consist of the full 2.4-mile swim, an altered bike course of approximately 50-miles, and the full 26.2-mile run. The IRONMAN 70.3 halft-triathlon will feature a 1.2 mile swim, the same 50 mile bike course, and the complete 13.1 mile run.
Recovery from the disaster continues around the clock as emergency services and public safety agencies assist those in need. The federal government has declared several counties in eastern North Carolina as eligible for FEMA disaster assistance. The IRONMAN Foundation will be making a $10,000 donation to those impacted in the race communities through The American Red Cross and the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund.
Athletes interested in contributing to those in need within the community can contribute online through The IRONMAN Foundation, where 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated back to support the organizations mentioned above.
The full-distance triathlon is set to begin in the waters of Wrightsville Beach at 7:20 a.m. on Saturday morning, with the half-triathlon scheduled to get underway about an hour later. The swim starts at the southern tip of Wrightsville Beach and takes place in a channel connected to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Always on an incoming tide, the current makes for consistently fast swim times.
The bike course then takes competitors from Wrightsville Beach through the outskirts of Wilmington and surrounding areas before returning to Historic Downtown Wilmington to the second transition area.
The two-loop run is an out-and-back, flat and fast run course starting in historic Wilmington and leads athletes around picturesque Greenfield Lake. The race finishes in downtown Wilmington on the Cape Fear River just across from the historic USS North Carolina Battleship.