Galveston hopes for boost from Ironman competition

April 23, 2010 3:47:34 PM PDT
One of the most grueling sporting events in the world is coming to Galveston Island and local leaders are hoping for a big boost to the area's economy. The island is expecting to bring in around $4 million to the economy when the Lone Star Triathlon Ironman 70.3 Pro Championships come to town this weekend.

For Carl Rosen it's a way of life, he trains year round at his home in Florida.

"For me, there's nothing like coming across the finish line. Those last 100 yards are the greatest feeling in the world. Even if you're not winning," said Rosen.

The Ironman 70.3 competition is an intensive championship series held all over the world. In Hawaii, last year's competitors steered through the grueling course.

This year, local competitor Lee Neathery hopes to have an edge over the competition.

"All of us that are from the Houston area are used to the strong southeasterly wind on our face and on our sides. I feel sorry from people who are from the plains and not used to it," said Neathery.

The triathlon features a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a half-marathon (13.1 miles) all in succession. The swim will begin at Moody Gardens' beautiful white sand Palm Beach, and finish next to the majestic Colonel Paddlewheel boat. The bike ride starts from Moody Gardens, cruises along the Seawall and crosses over San Luis Pass. The marathon course meanders through Moody Gardens along Offats Bayou and Palm Beach.

About 1,600 athletes will compete including 30 professional tri-athletes. Events start Saturday with the triathlon starting early Sunday morning at 7am.

The massive event is expected to bring in about 10,000 visitors.

"The great thing about this sport is we get to race amongst our idols in the sport and amongst the pros. There not many sports where you get a chance to race with a pro," said Keith Jordan, race director.

That's something John Clidas looks forward to.

"Every single person that crosses that finish line is a winner, just to complete the course you're a winner in your own right," said Clidas.

The competitors say it's as much a mental competition as it is physical.

This year is the fourth time Galveston has hosted the Lone Star Triathlon and the first time hosting the 70.3 Pro Championships. The weekend will also include the Lone Star Sprint and Olympic-distance events on Saturday, April 24.


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