You’ve probably noticed more people downtown. This weekend, Chattanooga will host the Ironman World Championship.
Safety is a top concern for law enforcement, as thousands of people will converge into the heart of the Tennessee Valley. Chattanooga is the only city to ever host four Ironman events in one year. It’s a big task and requires a lot of planning ahead of the race.
Ironman officials said 4,500 athletes from more than 90 different countries will compete in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon.
"There's no doubt that this is an international event and Chattanooga and Tennessee will be represented all over the world," Diana Bertch with Ironman said.
The race stretches from downtown Chattanooga to North Georgia. It’s one of the largest sporting events the region has ever hosted and requires area law enforcement to work together. Local, state, and federal agencies put the final touches on security plans and discussed how to improve from previous events.
"We tweak those from event to event on things from accident reports to ensure that we are always improving and making sure it's safe for the public to get around the event,” Lt. Austin Garrett with Chattanooga Police Department said.
In light of the recent attacks on large crowds around the world, officers are on high alert and using all resources to protect public safety.
"You’ll see concrete barricades. Those are vehicle intrusion measures; we don't want someone randomly driving into the event around the barricades,” Lt. Garrett said.
The Chattanooga Police Department said additional traffic around the area is their biggest challenge. With athletes on the ground and in the water, it takes several agencies to keep everyone safe.
Officers could not comment on specific measures they're taking but could confirm there are cameras around the course and a heavy police presence.
The Ironman organization gave the city of Chattanooga a 98% approval rating last year and attributes some of that to the security measures in place.
Ironman organizers estimate each athlete will bring between two to four family members or friends with them, meaning big crowds around the valley.
With the large attendance, law enforcement stressed the importance that if you "See something, to say something" to authorities.