Ironman triathlon coming to The Woodlands

THE WOODLANDS, TX Thousands of people are expected to participate in the full triathlon in The Woodlands next May. It's not only a premier athletic event for The Woodlands, it could mean a lot of money for the economy.

T.J. Fry of The Woodlands ran his first triathlon when he was just 12. He survived his first Ironman in his 20's, and he was hooked.

"I think it's the test of will to kind of test your limits and really see what you are made of, and I think that is the big attraction to me," said Fry.

He will be one of an expected 2,500 participants to compete in the Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas Triathlon on May 21 of next year. The race will serve as one of 23 global qualifying races for the Ironman World Championship that takes place each October in Kona, Hawaii.

"I think you will see a lot of successful people out there. Dozens of my friends are in that category where they weren't going to do the Ironman until it showed up in their backyard, and now they feel obligated," Fry said.

The Ironman consists of three legs: a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run completed in succession within a 17 hour timeframe.

One reason it took the Ironman so long to come to Texas is the heat and humidity. Memorial Hermann will have personnel on hand for any problems.

"Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute was really looking for a partner to work on developing performance-enhancing research. We approached Ironman and asked if they would like to work with us and not only developing the event here, but also work with us on other things in areas of research and injury prevention," said Steve Sanders, CEO Memorial Hermann.

The event is estimated to generate about $16 million in economic investment to The Woodlands area.

"It's a qualifier for the Kona, Hawaii event so they are going to come here and spend several days. They will spend five days, bring their families, occupy the hotels, go to our restaurants, go to our shops, go around The Woodlands, see what we have to offer," said Bruce Tough, Chairman The Woodlands Township.

"We are going to be able to watch this event on TV, and its going to position The Woodlands in such a great way around the world," said Nick Wolda of The Woodlands Visitor and Convention.

A total of 65 participants from The Woodlands race will qualify for Kona in October 2011. We will let you know what happens.

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