LOCALS, organizers and athletes hailed the success of Ironman Weymouth, who returned yesterday after a two-year absence, which gave the region a major economic boost.
Over 1,500 athletes completed the 70.3 mile course which involved a 1.3 mile swim in the bay, a 56 mile bike ride through the Dorset countryside and ending in a 13.1 run miles along the seafront and ending in front of the Weymouth Pavilion.
The prestigious event is a qualifier for the 2022 Ironman 70.3 World Championships with 30 places up for grabs.
The winner in the men was Stephen Derrett whose time was four hours, 12 minutes and 47 seconds while the winner in the women was Rosie Weston who finished in four hours, 41 minutes and 41 seconds.
Several routes around Dorset were closed for several hours to allow the event to run safely.
The organizers have worked with Dorset Council and other groups and have produced road closure maps with information so residents know how to plan their trips well in advance.
Travel arrangements appeared to have gone well and no major issues or incidents were reported during the hot day, which saw temperatures as high as 20 degrees.
Thousands of locals, tourists, friends and families lined Weymouth seafront and also settled outside the town to cheer on their loved ones.
Addressing crowds along Weymouth seafront, they welcomed the return of an event canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Dorchester man said: ‘It’s a bit surreal to see so many crowds after Covid-19 and all the social distancing measures.
“But seeing people come back to the waterfront cheering on the runners was really cool.”
Another resident, Sue, said: âIt’s really nice to see people outside. I always keep my distance and wear a mask but it’s nice to applaud the runners who pass. ”
Athletes from all over the UK and other countries came to compete in the cross country race and stayed in local hotels and holiday parks, pumping thousands of pounds into the local economy towards the end of the holiday season.
Dean Smith, Ironman Weymouth 70.3 Race Director, hailed the return of the event as a success and praised “the incredible atmosphere”.
He said: âWell done to all the athletes who participated in the event today. It was nice to be back in Weymouth, the local business and spectator support is amazing and we look forward to coming back every year.
“This year the atmosphere was amazing and the whole team worked hard to make sure we gave the athletes a memorable running experience.”
Councilor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for highways, travel and the environment, said: âIt’s great to see Ironman back in Dorset for this prestigious event, which attracts athletes from all over the world. and give our local athletes the opportunity to compete on their own soil.
âIt is a valuable event for our local economy and introduces our beautiful county to the thousands of sports enthusiasts who are part of the Ironman family. ”