Ironman 70.3 Triathlon competitors will cross the bridge spanning the Kennebec River between Richmond and Dresden on Sunday. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Designing a course that accounts for three forms of movement across land and sea is hard enough on its own; doing so in a brand-new place is even harder.

There’s no easy way to designate space in a city for an event such as an Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, which requires 70.3 miles of space to be allotted in areas with reasonable vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Add in the twists and turns that can be found in a New England capital city, and there’s an incredible amount of configuration to be done.

“Any time you go into a new place where you’ve never done a race before, there’s a lot of things you have to take into account, especially when it’s a city setting,” said Ironman Northeast Regional Director Dave Christen. “It takes a lot of planning to make sure the course is just right and is the best fit for the area.”

After months of planning, that course for Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 in Augusta is set. Between the meticulous course preparation and countless other pieces of logistical work, Maine’s capital city is more than ready for the roughly 2,000 competitors set to descend on it this weekend.

Ironman graphic

The Ironman 70.3 is a half-triathlon that incorporates running, cycling and swimming into a single course devised around — but not limited to — the host city’s central district. The race features 56 miles of biking, 13.3 miles of running and 1.2 miles of swimming.

Sunday’s race will begin with the swimming portion, which begins just south of Bridge Street in Augusta and finishes just south of Capitol Park. The running portion, which begins at Capitol Park and features a tight loop on the west side of the river that goes as far north as Cony Street and as far south as Water Street in Hallowell, comes last.


“The river is really something the athletes are excited about because they have the current assisting them,” said Christen, who is also the race director. “Running along the river really gives you the beauty of the area, and it even goes onto the east side and into [Old Fort Western], which is really cool.”

The middle portion of the race will send competitors on the biking course, which begins on Capitol Street in Augusta, crosses the Kennebec River and enters Chelsea, Pittston and Dresden before crossing back over the river on State Route 127. It then goes through Richmond, Gardiner, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Manchester, going as far west as Collins Road before making the full loop.

Although Ironman has done races in Old Orchard Beach before, race organizers were looking for a new location in Maine for this year’s event. Augusta, Christen said, was committed to the effort it would take to host the race, and the location in a capital city made the area even more appealing.

“When we looked at Augusta, it was clear this was a group that would support us well to get this done,” Christen said. “When you’re planning a race, you try to plan it as much as possible around the city center, and Augusta really had one that appealed to us.”

It’s an event, though, that will require the work of hundreds of people this weekend to pull off. Parts of central Maine cities and towns along the course will have to have diversions for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Volunteers will also be needed along the way to provide water and serve as course guides.

Given the long, grueling nature of the race, emergency personnel are also necessary. Among other precautions, the race will be getting assistance from Maine Marine Patrol, the Augusta, Farmingdale, Gardiner and Waterville fire departments and several local ambulance services. A special command center will also be set up along the course.


“Ironman has been doing this a long time, and they know the types of injuries and incidents that tend to happen and prepare heavily for them,” said Augusta Fire Chief David Groder. “We’re around the six-month mark now of working with all of the agencies to make sure they have the resources that they’re requesting.”

The dock on the west side of the Kennebec River in Augusta will be utilized for the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon that will be held Sunday. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Local law-enforcement agencies and Department of Transportation flaggers will also be on hand to assist with the aforementioned traffic diversions. Between those individuals and the noted personnel, Groder said, those present are prepared for anything from bad falls to potential incidents involving oncoming vehicles.

Although fleshing out the course has taken a lot of work, Christen said organizers haven’t run into any major issues along the way. The few dilemmas that have arisen, he added, have been minor staffing-related issues that aren’t related to the race itself but rather have become staples worldwide as the world begins to emerge from the COVID-19 era.

“There have been a few things on the supply-chain side, but that’s a global problem, not a problem related to the race,” Christen said. “We’ve gotten all the support we needed from Augusta, and we’re ready for a great race here on Sunday.”

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