ST. GEORGE - Athletes from all over the world raced in the red rocks Saturday, adding the title of Ironman to their name. For many it’s a repeat performance, and they said the scenic trail is part of what brings them back.
About 2,800 men and women competed in the half Ironman. It consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. Athletes make it look easy, but they said it is the ultimate endurance test.
“Just the challenge, constantly pushing your limits,” says local competitor Bryce Jones. “Do what you can do, see what you can put together on race day. An if all your hard work pays off, makes you feel good about yourself.”
The amateurs ran with top athletes. Jan Frodono, Olympic gold medalist from Germany, took the top spot in the men’s competition with a time of 3.45.21. American Meredith Kessler scored her second win in St. George for the women with a time of 4.11.53.
While it’s a major competition for the pros, for many locals, it’s an annual tradition.
“Its good to be done,” said Scott Moysh, four-time competitor from Taylorsville. “It’s a good feeling, though. It’s all tingly inside when you come down that finishing chute.”
Competitors said over and over that they love St. George, not just for the competitive atmosphere here and the beautiful course, but for the community that has embraced this race wholeheartedly.
“Everybody knows about the race,” says two-time competitor Sidney Zven from Colorado. “Everybody knows what’s going on here. And they’re so supportive of it, from the restaurants to out on the course, to tomorrow, to tonight at the bar. Everybody’s smiling and asking, 'Hey, how’d you do and good job.'”
One of the major ways locals support the race is through volunteering. About 2,000 people line the track, hand out water, and put on the medals. The volunteers said the inspiration these athletes bring is what keeps them coming back.
“I came in a couple hours early today to watch the first guy do his transition,” says volunteer Gina Griffith. “He just blew me away. He was amazing.”