ST. GEORGE, Utah - After hosting several regional Ironman 70.3 competitions, southern Utah is in the running to potentially host a world 70.3 championship event in 2017.
Ironman executives made the announcement Tuesday. St. George is a finalist city up against Lake Placid, New York City and Chattanooga, Tenn.
Local tourism directors say it was the Ironman executives who suggested St. George bid to host the championship.
“It puts us on a stage with the Alps of Austria, and the sunshine coast of Australia,” said Kevin Lewis, marketing director for St. George Tourism Bureau sports. “Those are the destinations that are hosting these world championship events.”
The St. George Ironman 70.3 triathlon already brings in professional athletes from around the world as the North American pro championship, but tourism directors say hosting a world championship would be a major step up.
“This is on the caliber of the Olympics, if you will, in triathlon,” Lewis said. “To be in that discussion says a lot about what we have to offer here, and what kind of a community we have.”
The event would bring in about 4,500 professional athletes and be a two-day event -- one day for women and the other for men.
Lewis said it presents challenges in making sure there are enough hotel accommodations for that many people, and a community that would welcome the athletes. Two-time Ironman participant Laura Bean said St. George definitely has the welcoming community.
“The people are great. The community is great” Bean said. “We’ve had a great relationship with Ironman through the years.”
Ironman executives will make personal trips to each of the finalist cities within the next couple of months, and hopefully have a decision by this August.
The 2015 Ironman 70.3 world championship will take place in Zell am See-Kaprun, SalzburgerLand, Austria on Aug. 30.