It’s just over six weeks until the seventh edition of IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire, and registration numbers are at an all-time high.
Close to 3,000 athletes will take the chance to push their limits in a challenging 70.3-mile swim, bike, and run event on 12 June 2022.
This year’s event marks the first full capacity race since 2019, following disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic which led to event cancellation in 2020 and a smaller athlete field in 2021.
Despite this, the appetite for triathlon has continued to grow, as 2022 IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire gets ready to welcome the largest athlete field in its history.
Current event registrations show a 6.7% increase from the 2019 edition of IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire, the last event to take place prior to the onset of the pandemic, and a 4.4% increase from 2015 IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire, the inaugural West Midlands race which has sustained record athlete entries.
And, with general registrations still open to the public, this is set to be a year to remember in Staffordshire.
Rebecca Sutherland, Race Director for IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire, said: “IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire is our first race of the UK season and it’s inspiring to see record numbers registered to participate. We’re looking forward to welcoming back old and new athletes, and making that finish line feeling possible for even more participants at this year’s event. We’d like to thank Stafford Council, Stafford Borough Council, and all the dedicated suppliers, staff, and volunteers that help make IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire a success year on year.”
So far, registered athletes will represent 55 different countries, with participants set to fly in from the likes of France, United States, Poland, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands amongst others.
The local community will also be out in force, with 173 Staffordshire-based athletes currently registered to race, and Stafford Triathlon Club sitting at the top of the Tri Club podium with 64 athletes.
Amongst the locals will be Andy Stone from Eccleshall, a former alcoholic who will be attempting to break two Guinness World Records to raise money for addiction charities. The challenge will see him carry out 70 half-distance triathlons (the same distance as an IRONMAN 70.3) in 70 days – culminating with IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire on the final day of his challenge.
Competitors range in age from 18 to 77 across general entry and the relay category, which is sold-out with 103 athletes racing from 48 different teams.
45 of the top finishing athletes will receive qualifying places for the 2022 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship taking place in St George, Utah on 28 and 29 October 2022.
The growth of women’s participation in triathlon events has also prompted the introduction of 25 additional World Championship slots exclusively for women racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire.
These are part of the Women For Tri initiative, a programme of the IRONMAN Foundation launched in 2015 to promote female participation at all levels of triathlon by breaking down barriers to participation.
Staffordshire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills Philip White said: “We’re pleased to see IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire return to the county this year and with more athletes than ever before. It means we can once again showcase Staffordshire to visitors from across the UK and the world. We’re an outward looking county with fantastic natural assets, visitor attractions, and places to stay, and we work closely with our neighbours to provide an excellent visitor experience. We look forward to welcoming athletes, their families and friends to Staffordshire in June.”
With a fast and flat course and non-open water swim, IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire is known for being first-timer friendly, and this year is no different as the race is set to welcome 58% first time IRONMAN athletes.
Athletes will undertake a 1.2-mile reservoir swim at Chasewater Country Park, a meandering 56-mile bike course through the heart of the Staffordshire countryside and Cannock Chase AONB, and a 13.1-mile run alongside the River Sow and into Stafford Town Centre.
With the infamous Stafford crowd support throughout the course, participants will race past the iconic Stafford Castle before finishing under the IRONMAN 70.3 finish gantry at Stafford’s Market Square.
Last year’s event saw Hugh Brashaw and Lydia Dant take home titles, finishing respectively with times of 4:07:21 and 4:30:33. IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire will be an Age-Group only event this year, giving amateur athletes the chance yet again to claim their win on the IRONMAN podium.
Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, Cabinet Member for Leisure at Stafford Borough Council, said: “This is a fantastic event and one of the most exciting and popular in the Staffordshire sporting calendar. It is another wonderful opportunity to showcase the county to the thousands who take part from around the globe or come to support the competitors. I am looking forward to joining the crowds, both out on the course and then cheering home the runners, as they make their way to the finish line in the heart of our county town. I hope it will be a great opportunity for businesses and residents to get involved in what has always been a wonderful and busy weekend in our borough.”
IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire marks the first IRONMAN race of the season in the UK, kicking off what is sure to be an outstanding summer of triathlon across England and Wales.
Included in the 2022 lineup is the UKs longest-running full distance event, IRONMAN UK, which is taking place on 3 July in Bolton, and the return of the iconic IRONMAN Wales on 11 September in Tenby, celebrating its 10th anniversary year.
IRONMAN will also debut its first IRONMAN 70.3 event in Wales with the introduction of IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea on 7 August, before finishing the 2022 season with IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth on 18 September in Dorset County.
Limited general entry places are still available for IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire.
Athletes can register at http://www.ironman.com/im703-staffordshire-register.