For the first time, an Ironman Triathlon event will be held on Maine soil.
On Aug. 27, 2,300 athletes are expected to descend on Old Orchard Beach for the Ironman 70.3.
The Ironman 70.3 is half the distance of an Ironman triathlon and consists of a 1.2-mile ocean swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile (half-marathon) run.
A traditional Ironman encompasses a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile cycle and a marathon (26.2 miles).
“Having an Ironman 70.3 come to Maine continues to put our state on the map with regards to sports tourism and show athletes from well beyond the area what kind of successful events Maine can put on and what a great destination it is as a four season sports destination,” said Sheila Brennan Nee, strategic director of the Maine Sports Commission, which is putting on the event.
Racing begins at 6:20 a.m. with the 1.2-mile swim in the Atlantic Ocean near the town pier.
The cycling portion starts at the corner of Milliken and Walnut Streets and will take riders through Saco, Scarborough, Hollis, Waterboro and Buxton before returning to Old Orchard Beach for the state of the half marathon.
The final leg of the race will wind through Old Orchard Beach and portions of the Eastern Trail. The run will finish in downtown OOB.
For those looking for a spot in an even bigger event, 35 spots in the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa will be up for grabs.
Brennan said the challenging course and picturesque terrain combine to make Old Orchard Beach, one of the state’s tourist hotbeds, an ideal location for the event.
“Old Orchard Beach is also very used to welcome a large number of people in the summer and making accommodations for athletes and their families when they come to town,” she explained.
The field will include numerous elite athletes from across the country, including 37 who have earned All World Athlete Gold status. Those athletes have finished within the top 10 percent or better in their respective age groups throughout the year.
Of course, a large event like this will mean numerous traffic delays to ensure that athletes can safely navigate the course during the cycling and running legs.
Multiple roads in town will be closed on race day beginning at 6 a.m., while major delays can be expected on Route 1 from 6:45 am.-noon.
There will also be a cutoff 8 hours and 30 minutes after the last athlete to start enters the ocean.