Ironman brings athletes, money, traffic headaches
Posted May 30, 2013
Updated June 2, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Ironman – the race, not the superhero – is in Raleigh this weekend, bringing hundreds of athletes to the area and numerous road closures along the race course.
"It's not an event that the average citizen can do," Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said of the triathlon.
Two years in the making, this year marks the first year of a three-year contract for the Ironman 70.3. There are 50 qualifying slots to the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Lake Las Vegas in September.
The competition started at 7 a.m. Sunday with a 1.2-mile swim off Vista Point Beach at Jordan Lake, followed by a 56-mile bike race through eastern Chatham and southern Wake counties and ending in Raleigh. Competitors then finish the event with a 13.1-mile half-marathon from the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts In downtown Raleigh to the North Carolina Museum of Art and end in downtown's City Plaza.
"Ironman is an experience," race operations manager Audra Tassone said.
More than 2,400 competitors from more than 30 countries were expected to participate, with most from out of the area. Dupree said the event could bring more than $2 million to local hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
"With the proximity to the convention center, we should be able to attract quite a few people to come and have lunch with us or dinner. So, it will give us some extra impact," said Sam Yehia, owner of Sam and Wally's Eatery on Fayetteville Street.
The Raleigh Convention Center is serving as Ironman headquarters for the weekend, with an expo set for Friday and Saturday and the finish line of the race at the adjacent City Plaza.
"Raleigh has had quite a few independent races that have been very successful, but it's definitely a destination place," Tassone said. "It's easy to get to, (and) it offers everything – there's hotels, there's restaurants, there's culture."
"I think it's safe to say that Raleigh is on a pretty good roll right now in terms of major events," Dupree said.
Fayetteville Street between Davie and Lenoir streets will be closed from 6 a.m. Saturday until 11 p.m. Sunday for the Ironman competition, and the following roads will be closed for part of Sunday during the race:
- The right lane of U.S. Highway 64 between Pea Ridge and Beaver Creek from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- The right lane of northbound N.C. Highway 55 Bypass between Avent Ferry and Old Smithfield roads from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Lake Wheeler Road north of Tryon Road and exits along Interstate 440 to Lake Wheeler Road from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- South Saunders Street between Lake Wheeler Road and South Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- South Street between South Saunders and Wilmington streets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The left lane of Wilmington Street between South and Edenton streets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- The left lane of Edenton Street between Wilmington and Salisbury streets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Salisbury Street from Edenton to Hillsborough streets from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Hillsborough Street from Salisbury Street to Meredith College from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- House Creek Greenway Trail from Meredith College to the art museum from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Fayetteville Street from Morgan to Lenoir streets from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Police will direct traffic along the course.