Foreign entries to double for return of Ironman raceMay 15, 2012 - 7:23am
BY ENDA CUNNINGHAM
The return of the gruelling Ironman endurance race to Galway in September is set to attract twice as many foreign entries this year – bringing a €10 million boost to the local economy.
The 70.3 mile triathlon will take place on September 2, and has already had 1,200 entries, and Eoin McCormack of organisers E&R Events told the Connacht Sentinel that they expect a huge increase in the number of professional athletes, which he puts down to “word-of-mouth and the coverage of the event last year”.
“A lot of people don’t do a ‘Year 1’ event, so we’re expecting a natural increase, but we’re also seeing a massive rise in the numbers of foreign individual entries.
“Last year, around 20% of entrants were foreign, this year we’re looking at around 35-40%. A total of 40 countries have already been registered, there’s even an entry from the Vatican City.
“We’re on track to have the same number of entries overall (around 1,700), but with the number of international athletes up significantly, that will have a knock-on effect – these people don’t just come over for two or three days.
“They come for a week or two, and bring at least one other person, or their families, and make a holiday out of it, so there’s a huge boost for the local economy,” said Mr McCormack.
He said figures audited by the Western Development Commission and the Mathematics Department at NUIG show the event generated a €10m boom for Galway last year.
He said the Galway Ironman was attracting a high calibre of entrant – last year’s winner Mike Aigroz from Switzerland went on to come fourth in the world at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Rachel Joyce from Britain, who came second in Galway, went on to secure fourth place (female) in Hawaii.
The ’70.3’ event held in Galway is half the length of the full Ironman course in Hawaii – a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile cycle and 26.2 mile marathon.
“Ours is the final event on the calendar, coming three weeks before Hawaii, so the pros see Galway as their last heavy training session before the World Championship. We’re benefitting from that too.
“There is a new scheme, where if you’re injured or can’t take part in an Ironman competition [elsewhere in Europe], that you can enter any other Ironman. We’re hugely benefitting from it, because we’re the last on the calendar, and people are under pressure for training,” said Mr McCormack.
Race entry for individuals and teams is still open, and the organisers are also looking for up to 700 volunteers, who can register their interest at ironmanireland.com