Organizers for IRONMAN prepared for busy weekend in downtown Chattanooga
Chattanooga is gearing up for a busy weekend as IRONMAN has officially hit downtown.
Crews have set up the finish line at Ross’s Landing near Riverfront Drive.
UTC's homecoming is this weekend on the other side of town.
A lot of traffic is expected, but organizers say they have prepared for this race for over a year and are ready for any challenge ahead.
"But for us. you know, this is about the IRONMAN and the athletes and the preparation that has gone into that, and we are ready to manage whatever happens,” IRONMAN organizer, Keats McGonigal said.
McGonigal, along with thousands of athletes, spectators and volunteers, are ready.
READ MORE | Volunteer signups are open for IRONMAN
"Everyone loves being here. On sight. Setting up. All the planning is behind us. Now we are executing all of those plans and we are ready for a great weekend,” McGonigal said.
Athletes will start with swimming 2.4 miles in the Tennessee River. Next, they'll gear up for a breezy 116 mile bike ride and then finish with a full marathon to the finish line.
McGonigal says Chattanooga is one of the best spots to host the race.
"We've been racing six years here in Chattanooga and we have athletes here literally coming in from all over the globe. We've got 35 different countries represented and it's a true destination race,” McGonigal said.
Organizers welcome big crowds. They held one of their rock n' roll marathons in Nashville the same weekend as the NFL Draft back in April, which brought hundreds of thousands to downtown. And like Nashville, McGonigal believes Chattanooga will see a great impact from this weekend.
"It's a huge economic driver for this community. That's why I think the community has embraced the athletes and why they continue to come back,” McGonigal said.
McGonigal, along with thousands more, are ready to see who win's one of the biggest races in the country.
"The emotions that they have when they cross that finish line, it’s like nothing else. I've been around sports all my life and seeing people cross the finish line of their first IRONMAN is truly unique. There is nothing else like it in sports,” McGonigal said.
Most hotels in downtown Chattanooga are booked solid, but there are some rooms available in the Hamilton Place and Lookout Valley areas.
The race will start at 7:00 Sunday morning.
Stay with the WRCB app for IRONMAN updates.