Organizers expect a large field — more than 2,000 triathletes — when Ironman 70.3 Kansas returns to Lawrence for a second year.
“After last year, we had a great response,” race director Ryan Robinson said. “People came in, they got to see the city. We got to correct any stereotypes they had of Kansas. It’s not flat. Lawrence is definitely not a sleepy town. Everybody came in, had a great time, and the response is showing that.”
Robinson said the 2009 triathlon is set for June 14.
The event — which involves a 1.2-mile swim at Clinton Lake, a 56-mile bicycle race and a 13.1-mile run — will feature some changes this year. Most events will take place at Clinton State Park, which is closer to Lawrence than last year’s venue, Bloomington Beach, on the lake’s west side.
In last year’s inaugural event, about 1,300 athletes competed. But Robinson said the competition has benefited from a whole year of promotion and registration.
Several events will lead up to the Sunday race. Two races, 5K and 10K, the day before will benefit Health Care Access of Lawrence.
About 55 professional Ironman competitors from around the world are expected here this year.
Robinson said the event, with 2,000 people representing 50 states and 11 countries, should boost Lawrence’s economy.
The Ironman competition this year will include a special military division open to members of the armed services.
And at least five injured members of the military are expected to compete through the program Operation Rebound. The program will allow triathletes competing in the race the chance to raise $1,000 to support the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and they also get the opportunity to race alongside and meet the wounded troops.
“They really get a boost, and it really motivates them to see how many people come out to support them, not only just cheer them on but directly take an active role in raising money,” said Nico Marcolongo, the Operation Rebound program manager for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.