Half Ironman UK
The UK will once more host a qualifier for the Hawaii Ironman with the creation of a new Ironman UK in Llanberis, Wales. The race, which will be half Ironman distance in 2001 before moving up to full Ironman in 2001, will offer 30 qualification slots for the 2001 Hawaii Ironman. Race date is set down for September 9th 2001, just four weeks before the next year's Hawaii Ironman on October 6. This will make the UK race the 'last chance saloon' for athletes looking to qualify for
Kona in 2001.
Ironman UK will end an almost 10-year drought for Hawaii slots in the UK. Kona places were last offered there at the Ironbridge triathlon in 1991 and 1992. Race commentator, Ken McLaren, believes 20 slots were on offer for Hawaii in those years. The 1991 race was actually a full Ironman distance race, won by Dutchman Lucien Loigens, before settling into the more familiar half Ironman format from '92 onwards. Sadly, Ironbridge, one of the most popular races on the British calendar, ran into financial difficulties and was not held this year.
As surprising at the healthy offering of Kona slots is, British triathletes may be even more surprised at the choice of location for Ironman UK. The more densely populated areas of the South Coast of England, which enjoy a milder climate, would perhaps have been most people's pick for such a prestigious race. Race organisers have clearly taken on board the experience of events such as Ironman New Zealand, which has seen entries climb to record levels since turning it's back on big city troubles in Auckland for the more placid and scenic surroundings of Lake Taupo.
The village of Llanberis lies at the foot of Snowdon, the highest mountain in England & Wales, amongst the splendour of Snowdonia National Park. At 838 square miles, Snowdonia is the UK's second largest national park and competitors can expect a landscape as big as it is beautiful. Says Katherine Williams, editor of Triathlon Digest; "It's absolutely beautiful country. The lake, the landscape, the mountains - they've chosen well! I bet it ultimately rivals Taupo for 'setting'."
Nearby sights for those planning to spend some time in the area include the magnificent 13th century Caernarfon Castle, Thomas Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge and the island of Anglesey. Anglesey is particularly noteworthy as the home of the village with the longest place name in the world. What trip to Wales would be complete without taking a photo in front of the ...
... Railway station?
Further details on the race are still sketchy. The official race announcement was slated for Hawaii on October 7th but has been usurped by a report in a local Welsh newspaper. This was spotted by an eagle-eyed local triathlete and quoted on Henry Budgett's UK based web-site, triathletes-uk.org. XTri.Com understands a web site for race information and online entries will be available shortly at www.ironmanuk.com.