CAMBRIDGE, Md.- The 2017 IRONMAN Maryland triathlon begins Saturday morning in Dorchester County, with more than 1,200 registered athletes from around the world participating in a day of swimming, biking and running.
Amanda Fenstermaker, director of tourism in Cambridge, said IRONMAN is a big event for the city, which is county seat of Dorchester County and the county’s largest municipality.
“It brings in about $5 million worth of economic impact to the region,” she said.
The race consists of a 2.4-mile swim in the Choptank River followed by a 112-mile bike ride through Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and a 26.2-mile run around Dorchester County.
The competition offers 40 qualifying spots for the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii October 13. The participants range in age from 18 to 77 , and more than 32 countries will be represented. Among the 44 states represented, Maryland includes the largest number of participants at 154 registered competitors.
Fenstermaker said the competition was formerly known as Chesapeakeman, a full distance 140.6-mile race hosted in Dorchester four years ago. IRONMAN World Triathlon Corporation, which hosts competitions around the world, bought that race from a non-profit organization.
“Because we had so much success with the race in the past, they decided to locate it here,” Fenstermaker said.
Spectators can watch runners cross the finish line located at Long Wharf Park. Bleachers will be available adjacent to the finish line by the IRONMAN village, where there is access to food and beverages.
The village allows athletes, volunteers and spectators to interact as well as speak with various companies specializing in sports performances. The village will host a panel of athletes, informational meetings and prize giveaways.
The swimming competition can be seen from the Shoreline in Great Marsh Park. People can watch the biking leg of the race from Cambridge South Dorchester High school parking lot as riders refuel at an aid station. Shuttle buses are scheduled to leave from outside Great Marsh Park following the swim, returning to the park regularly until 1:30 p.m.
Runners may be seen anywhere along Water or High Street as well as directly outside the micro-brewery, RAR. Participants will head out from Great Marsh Park on the downtown leg of the run around 12:30 p.m.
The bike course in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge guides runners through the 27,000-acre waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. The refuge contains nearly one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands, and is home to over 250 bird species as well as 165 species of threatened or endangered plants.
An opening ceremony will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the IRONMAN village. The race starts at 6:45 a.m. Saturday.
There will be free shuttle bus parking at Sailwinds Park off Maryland Avenue which will drop off outside Great Marsh Park and Cambridge Marina. Buses will run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Shuttle parking will be located at Mace’s Lane Middle School on Saturday only from 4:45 a.m. until 1 a.m. Pickup is located outside Great Marsh Park.
For more information visit IRONMAN Maryland online.