Ironman staffers use zip ties Thursday to hang a banner on the fence around the bike transition area on the athletic fields in front of Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta. All that they’ve set up this week will be broken down again Sunday after the half-triathlon and moved to the next race. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — When the Ironman 70.3 returns to Augusta on Sunday for the second year of its three-year commitment, it comes with some significant changes beyond tweaks in the course.

This year’s edition will add a professional field of triathletes with a cash prize of $30,000 split equally among several top male and female athletes and qualification for the World Championship in New Zealand later this year.

It will also be aired on a global broadcast via Outside TV for millions of viewers.

Heading into this weekend, about 2,200 athletes have registered to take part in the three-part race. The first section is a 1.2-mile swim in the Kennebec River starting at 4:30 a.m., followed by a 56-mile bike ride through the towns of the Kennebec River valley. The third part is a 13.1-mile run on the Kennebec River Rail Trail with a finish in downtown Augusta.

A section of the Rail Trail in Farmingdale that was washed out recently is currently being repaired.

The 70.3-mile race is half the length of a traditional Ironman triathlon.


“Our first year in Augusta, we were just an amateur race,” Dave Christen, northeast regional director for the Ironman organization, said Wednesday. “We typically don’t have pro elements in first-year events.”

That first year, race officials want to test how the race will go before bringing professional athletes, Christen said, noting that’s standard practice.

This year, the number of registrations is up, with more than 2,200 athletes signed up to take part, and the work to greet those athletes is already underway.

“A lot of Ironman crew has started trickling in since last Thursday,” said Katie Doherty, president and CEO of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The city fields in front of the YMCA have already started to look like the Ironman Village and the tents are up and everything is starting to get into place.”

A semi-trailer door frames Ironman operations staffers on Tuesday, as they unpack and set up the transition and finish areas for this Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Maine near Capital Park in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The logistics work to get to this point, however, started weeks ago, with meetings with Kennebec County and municipal officials from the cities and towns where the course has been laid out.

Augusta police Chief Jared Mills said following a review of last year’s race, some improvements have been made in notifications and keeping stakeholders informed earlier in the process.


For more than a week now, electronic signs have been posted along the route, alerting people to the upcoming race, and municipalities have been posting no parking notices where applicable.

After each race, the Ironman organization completes an estimate of the event’s direct economic impact. Following last year’s race, that impact was calculated to be $2.6 million from spending on lodging and food and other items by participants and their families as well as what the Ironman organization spent.

The Memorial Bridge over the the Kennebec River in downtown Augusta will be a busy place Sunday during with the Ironman 70.3 race. The swimming leg will begin in Front Street parking lot at lower right. The cycling course includes going over the bridge. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

In all, 3,429 visitors spent nearly $1 million on lodging, mostly in hotels and motels, but others secured vacation rentals or other lodging like campgrounds and RV parks, while a portion stayed with family and friends.

Some athletes traveled to take part in a race and stay for a few days. Others bring their families and build a vacation around the race.

Doherty said that figure is expected to be bigger this year, with the larger number of participants expected.

“A really cool thing about this event is the volunteer support we have,” Christen said. “The spirit of volunteerism in this region is big.”


By midweek, more than 700 volunteers have been added to the database, he said, more than 1,000 are expected by the time the weekend is done.

Bike racks are seen Thursday in the transition area where athletes will switch from swimming to biking during Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 in Augusta. The racks are set up on the athletic fields in front of Kennebec Valley YMCA. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“There’s no better front-row seat than putting yourself in the action,” he said.

For those who prefer to watch the race from the comfort of their own homes, Christen said a link to the broadcast can be found on Outside TV via by searching for Maine. People will also be able to see live links on the Ironman 70.3 Maine Facebook page as well.

“It’s an unspoken big deal. Augusta and the region are on a global broadcast that touches millions of eyes on Sunday and many days after,” Christen said.

Both Doherty and Christen said the chamber of commerce and the Ironman organization are currently in discussions to extend the contract for the races for two more years.

Christen said the minimum commitment is for three years, but that can be extended to five years.

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