By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — More than 2,000 athletes are beginning to descend on the Lakes Region for the 16th running of what is now called the Ironman 70.3 Timberman race.
The two-day event brings athletes from all over the world to competitively swim in Lake Winnipesaukee for 1.2 miles, run a half-marathon – or 13.37 miles, and bike around the Lakes Region for 56.16 miles.
On Saturday, said Gilford Police Lt. Kris Kelley, is the Sprint race, which is a smaller version of Sunday's big race. Kelley said the tri-athletes will meet in the very early morning at Ellacoya State Park and the race itself, which begins with the swim portion, starts at 7 a.m.
On Sunday, check-in and set up time begins at 3:30 a.m. and the Ironman 70.3 Timberman race begins at 6:30 a.m. with the swim portion. This is a qualifying race for the 2017 national championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In both cases, said Kelley, the last bicyclists are usually finished by 3:30 p.m.
Kelley said that no roads are closed during either race, but said there will be a lot of slow-moving traffic around Route 11 and Ellacoya, so motorists should plan for that.
The Ironman 70.3 Timberman race has been held in Gilford and the Lakes Region since its inception in 2000. The initial event drew about 600 people but now draws as many as 2,000 athletes and spectators.
Kelley, who competed in the Sprint race a few years ago, said the event is one of the more popular events in the Lakes Regional annually.
"This is a great revenue source for all of the area's hotels, restaurants, Gunstock and other venues and we are proud to host it in our community," he said.
Deputy Fire Chief Brad Ober said this will be the third year in a row they will have air conditioning in the medical tent, which he said cuts down on the number of people who have to go to the hospital.
He said he personally hopes the humidity stays on the low side for the two days but said he doesn't anticipate anything temperature wise that would make this race any different that those in past years.
"We are gearing up to be busy but we don't expect anything catastrophic," he said.
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