Top Triathletes from Across the Globe Head to St. George To Compete in the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Presented by Utah Sports Commission
September 14, 2021
- Incredible athletes bring inspirational and aspirational journeys to St. George led by Silver Medalist in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, Lauren Parker, and Autistic age-group athlete “Super” Sam Holness - Over 85 countries, regions and territories represented in St. George, Utah for 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission on Sept. 18
St. GEORGE, Utah / TAMPA, Fla. (September 14, 2021) – More than 3,000 of the world’s top athletes are registered to compete in St. George, Utah on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission. The IRONMAN Group has produced this world-class event since 2006, with host cities rotating globally beginning in 2014.
“We are thrilled to host the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship race in St. George, adding this city to a select list of other top-tier IRONMAN championship locations,” said Diana Bertsch, Senior Vice President, World Championship Events for The IRONMAN Group. “Bringing athletes to compete in a hotbed of endurance sports in St. George is exactly what our community needs after the difficult past year – to get back to our roots and celebrate what we do. We look forward to providing the best possible race experience to our athletes and beginning a tradition of championship racing in scenic St. George.”
With athletes hailing from over 85 countries, regions and territories, North America leads the way with 76 percent of the athletes registered to race in the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Following North America, Latin America accounts for 10 percent, while Europe accounts for nine percent of the field.
The United States of America is the most represented nation, followed by Mexico, France, Canada, Colombia, and Germany. Other athletes from countries as far as Taiwan, India, Morocco, Kenya, and the Philippines are traveling from around the globe for their shot at the championship.
Every year hundreds of thousands of triathletes across the globe strive to make it to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship – ultimately it is the elite of the elite that are able to toe the start line for this prestigious event. Each athlete that is competing also has a “why” they spend hundreds of hours of training for this one event. Highlighting some of the remarkable inspirational and aspirational stories include Silver Medalist in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, Australian Lauren Parker, and Autistic age-group athlete Great Britain’s “Super” Sam Holness.
In 2017, Australian triathlete Lauren Parker was at the peak of her career. Coming off a second-place finish at the 2015 IRONMAN World Championship, a 28-year-old triathlete was training 35-hours a week with the goal of making the podium at IRONMAN Australia. On an early morning ride, a week before the race, she crashed into a guardrail while going approximately 28 mph. Parker suffered broken ribs, scapula, back and pelvis, as well as punctured a lung. Since the accident, Parker has benefitted immensely from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, where she has received life-changing help getting back to sport, and into her new sport of paratriathlon. Parker’s transition to adapted sport was one of the quickest the ITU has on record. Nine months after the accident, she finished second at the 2018 St. Kilda OUT Paratriathlon Oceania Championships and has since achieved the following accolades: 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, 2018 ITU World Paratriathlon bronze medalist, and 2019 ITU World Paratriathlon champion. Parker comes to the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission having recently won the silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. This will be Parker’s first IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship that she will be competing in.
“Super” Sam Holness, is a black, Autistic triathlete. The 27-year-old from London, England trains like any other elite competitor, swimming, running, and cycling roughly 12-16 hours per week. His focus and never-give-up attitude are key characteristics that set him apart as a competitor.
Additional inspirational and aspirational age-group athletes competing at the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission including:
- Kyle Brown (Farmington, Utah) – Kyle Brown is an elite cyclist from Northern Utah, who has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of ALS. Doctors told him he had 6 to 18 months to live in March of this year — But that doesn’t stop Kyle from pursuing his passion. Kyle trains six days a week, has a vegan diet, and competes as an elite age group athlete in IRONMAN races. The same day that Kyle was told he was dying, he proposed to his then-girlfriend Colleen. The two got married less than three weeks later after biking three hours to the top of Francis Peak in Utah to meet over a hundred family and friends. Kyle is fully intent on finishing his race in St. George and even says, “Oh I’ll finish. Even if it kills me.” Kyle plans to wear number 179 during the race, in honor of Jon Blais, who turned into an icon in IRONMAN racing when he became the only person with ALS finish an IRONMAN race at the 2005 IRONMAN World Championship.
- Shay Eskew (Brentwood, Tenn.) – At the age of 8, Shay was set afire by a neighbor’s child and suffered burns over 65% of his body. He was told by doctors that he would never play sports again and has endured 35 surgeries over the past 36 years. Due to scars and surgeries, Shay cannot sweat from 1/3 of his body. However, Shay has since competed in four IRONMAN races, including the 2012 IRONMAN World Championship, and 25 IRONMAN 70.3 races, six of which have been IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. In St. George, Shay hopes not to just be a finisher, but a competitor as well.
- Beth and Liza James (Crested Butte, Colo.) – Beth was a single mom-of-three when she and her children were in a severe car accident 16 years ago. While two of her kids suffered only minor bumps and bruises, her youngest child, Liza, then 6, endured a blow to the head that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Today, Liza, 25, is non-verbal and unable to walk. But, thanks to her mom, Liza travels the country, swimming, biking, running and even climbing mountains. Liza and Beth now compete together as the inspirational mother-daughter duo (Team Liza) participating in numerous races including 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons, marathons, and various levels of triathlons. So far, Team Liza has participated in The Challenged Athletes Foundation Triathlon, IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, IRONMAN 70.3 Raleigh and even completed their first full together at 2018 IRONMAN Wisconsin. Beth and Liza live in Crested Butte, CO and enjoy participating with the fabulous Adaptive Sports Program year around. This includes zip lining, river rafting, mountain biking, and skiing. Her family enjoys pulling Liza on Nordic Trails and has participated in the Alley Loop Nordic Ski Event. Team Liza’s goal is to inspire her family and other challenged athletes and to further educate the public! Liza and Beth will look to follow in the footsteps of amazing special team duos who have come before such as father-son team of Rick and Dick Hoyt (Team Hoyt) and the Pease Brothers Kyle and Brent.
- Scott Woolsey (Salt Lake City, Utah) – Scott is a blind athlete from Utah, who has competed in numerous IRONMAN events over the past few years, including IRONMAN 70.3 St. George twice in 2019 and 2021. Scott has completed a full-distance IRONMAN race in 2019 in Boulder, CO.
- Earl Barnes (Topeka, Kan.) – In 1997, Earl Barnes suffered a motorcycle accident that left him with an amputation at the ankle. With this procedure, Earl thought that his competitive days were over. However, Earl returned as an active-duty firefighter as one of the first amputee frontline firefighters in the country. Another surgery in 2009 would take seven more inches off of his leg but would allow Earl to run again and compete in triathlons. Since this surgery, Earl has competed in numerous IRONMAN events, continuing to defy the odds and showing others that “sport doesn’t care about age, it only cares that you toe the starting line.” In addition to his firefighter captain duties, he serves as a tactical medic on the SWAT team and a rescue diver for the county dive team. Off duty, he is a pilot, wakeboarder, and triathlete “not because [he has] something to prove, but because [he wants] to do all the things that were almost taken away from [him] and never forget how short life is!”
The 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission will kick off with a 1.2-mile (1.9km) ROKA Swim Course, which takes place in Sand Hollow Reservoir located in Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, Utah. Next, a challenging 56-mile (91.3km) Ventum Bike Course will lead athletes through stunning desert landscapes with 3,442 feet (1,049 meters) of elevation gain and an unforgettable climb into Snow Canyon State Park and surrounding Washington County. The 13.1-mile (21.2km) HOKA ONE Run Course will take athletes on two loops through the stunning Red Hills Parkway and wind through historic downtown St. George where the finish line is located.
In order to qualify for the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, more than 50,000 age-group athletes competed to earn slots at over 45 IRONMAN 70.3 events held worldwide.
Additional historical facts and stats on the field competing in the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission in St. George, Utah:
- St. George is the ninth city in history to host the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship following Clearwater, Fla. (USA) (2006-2009), Henderson, Nev. (USA) (2010-2013), Mont-Tremblant, Quebec (CAN) (2014), Zell am See-Kaprun, SalzburgerLand (AUT) (2015), Mooloolaba, Queensland (AUS) (2016), Chattanooga, Tenn. (USA) (2017), Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape (ZAF) (2018), and Nice, France (2019)
- 64 percent of registered participants are male
- 36 percent of registered participants are female
- 42 is the average age of all registrants
- Manfred Klittich (DEU) is the oldest male and overall participant at 84, while Jacob Wolmer (USA) is the youngest at 18
- Cherie Gruenfeld (USA) is the oldest female participant at 77, while Arron Goldman (USA) is the youngest at 18
- 11 athletes will be celebrating their birthdays on event weekend
- All 50 U.S. states are accounted for, with the greatest number hailing from California, Florida, Texas, Colorado, and New York
- 51 IRONMAN Virtual Racing athletes earned their way to the start line of the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship
- More than 50,000 athletes competed in 45 IRONMAN 70.3 qualifying races held worldwide
- Since the series began in 2006, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has been led by Australia and Germany with six champions each, followed by Switzerland (five champions) and Great Britain (four champions). The United States and Spain have had two winners each, while Canada, New Zealand, and Norway each have one winner
- More than 3,000 volunteers will help make the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship a success
For more information about the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission event, please visit www.ironman.com/im703-world-championship
About the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship
In 2006 the inaugural IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship was held in Clearwater, Florida becoming another test for the world’s elite triathletes. Since that auspicious beginning, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has grown in stature and popularity moving first to Henderson, Nevada in 2011, where athletes encountered a more challenging terrain and then to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec—its first stop on the new “global rotation” for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. The event reached European soil for the first time ever in 2015, with Zell am See, Austria, hosting an epic and memorable event. In 2016, the race moved from the mountains to the beaches of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. In 2017, the race returned to the United States, taking place in Chattanooga, Tennessee where it became a two-day event for the first time. In 2018, the event reached the African continent for the first time and was hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa. Continuing the rotation, 2019 saw the French Riviera and Nice, France play host to the ever-growing IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship event. More than 200,000 athletes participate annually in a series of qualifying races, consisting of over 100 events in locations such as Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, North America, South Africa, and Switzerland. Hosting more than 5,000 athletes from around the world, participants in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship have ranged in age from 18 to 85-plus. In 2021, the event takes place in the Red Rocks of St. George, Utah on September 18 in the United States and again on October 28-29, 2022, before shifting to Lahti, Finland on August 26-27, 2023. For more information, visit www.ironman.com/im703-world-championship.
About The IRONMAN Group
The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® Virtual Racing™ (VR™) Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll® Running Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Running™ Series, IRONKIDS®, World Triathlon Championship Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and The Sun-Herald City2Surf®, Ultra-Trail® World Tour events including Tarawera Ultra and Ultra-Trail Australia™, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, road cycling events including Haute Route®, and gravel racing like Gravel Epic®, and other multisport races. The IRONMAN Group is the largest operator of mass participation sports in the world and provides more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Since the inception of the iconic IRONMAN® brand and its first event in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines around the world. Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with hundreds of events across 55+ countries. The IRONMAN Group is owned by Advance, a private, family-owned business. For more information, visit www.ironman.com/about-ironman-group.
Advance is a private, family-held business that owns and invests in companies across media, entertainment, technology, communications, education and other promising growth sectors. Our mission is to build the value of our companies over the long-term by fostering growth and innovation. Advance’s portfolio includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, The IRONMAN Group, American City Business Journals, Leaders Group, Turnitin, 1010data and Pop. Together these operating companies employ more than 17,000 people in 29 countries. Advance is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Discovery and Reddit. For more information visit www.advance.com.