Preparations for the ESi Ironman 70.3 are almost complete
by Eric Johnson
As the time ticks down to the start of the ESi Ironman Augusta 70.3, different parts of town are coming alive with unusual activity centered on the event. Some, like the members of the Augusta Sports Council, which we’ve been covering in a series of articles, have been working toward this point since before last year’s event was torn down, while others are just now gearing up.
With all those athletes riding all those bikes, you expect Augusta’s bike shops to be working hard selling last-minute items and conducting 11th-hour repairs, but given the cost of traveling with a competition-grade bike, the shops have also become UPS delivery points for many of the competitors’ bikes.
According to Brett Ardrey of Outspokin,’ it all kind of makes sense.
“A lot of these guys don’t know much about their bikes,” he says. “They can swim and run and ride their bikes, but they don’t know that much about their bikes. So to take a bike apart, put it in an airplane and then get it over here and back together — they don’t have the tools and they don’t have the place to keep it.”
By the Tuesday before the race, Drew Jordan of Andy Jordan’s was already starting to see the arrival of some of the bikes.
“We’ll have a lot of people who just kind of roll off the plane on Saturday night and come in here to get their bike assembled,” he says. “It gets a little chaotic, to say the least.”
According to Carly Kobasiar, marketing manager for the Augusta Sports Council, chaos would reign supreme if not for the 1,100 or so volunteers who sign up every year.
“We’ve got a lot of groups that have agreed to volunteer, and most of them are providing anywhere from 20 to 60 volunteers as part of their group,” Kobasiar says.
The groups include the ASU cheerleaders, St. Paul’s Church and several groups from Fort Gordon.
Many individual community members volunteer, too. In fact, volunteering has become a popular way for locals and those who have accompanied participants to experience the event.
“They sign up for a specific position,” Kobasiar says. “We’ll have our volunteer orientation Thursday night, where we’ll run through everything they’re going to be doing and where they’ll need to go. Then, we’ll pass out the T-shirts and stuff.”
All 1,100 volunteers will be wearing navy blue volunteer T-shirts throughout the event.
Those volunteers will be fanned out across the massive event area while accomplishing a variety of different tasks to help the competitors and the spectators get the most out of the event.
According to Kobasiar, spectators at Augusta’s Ironman are particularly fortunate.
“The beauty of this course is that it is really spectator friendly,” she says. “Anywhere on the run course, especially if you’ve got one athlete that you’re trying to follow, you can just leapfrog through downtown Augusta and see them multiple times. The zigzags through downtown really make it fun.”
For those who want to get up early, one of the most exciting places to be will be at the swim start. For obvious reasons.
“Putting 3,000 bodies in the Savannah River is just an awesome sight and is not something you see every day,” she says.
Swimming will be going on from approximately 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., she says. Officials expect the winner to cross the finish line about 11:50 a.m.
Finish line activities will be going on at the Augusta Common, and although Broad Street might be closed, the restaurants will remain open.
“All our downtown restaurants are going to be open for business,” Kobasiar says. “It’s going to be an awesome time.”You Might Also Like: