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Age group excellence and inspiration on tap for Ironman 70.3 Worlds in St. George

Over 6,000 athletes are set to compete at this year's Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

This Friday and Saturday more than 6,000 athletes will be arriving in St. George, Utah for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, the third Ironman world championship event the city is holding in 13 months.

The event has attracted athletes from 104 countries, with the USA leading the way with 2,331 registered athletes. France has the second largest contingent (472), with Canada in third with 448 competitors. Great Britain sits at fourth in terms of representation with 405 athletes, followed by Germany (348) and Australia (245).

Related: Will the 70.3 World Championship turn into a showdown between Lucy Charles-Barclay, Taylor Knibb and Flora Duffy?

There are 12 defending age-group champions set to line up this week, including:

Mexico’s Alina Hanschke Busch (F35-39), along with American’s Cathy Yndestad (F40-44), Juliet Hochman (F55-59), Colleen De Reuck (F55-59), Juliana Nievergelt(F60-64) and Diane Tracy (F70-74). On the men’s side, Luxembourg’s Olivier Godart (M45-49) returns to St. George. American’s Gennaro Magliulo (M75-79), Tim Bradley (M60-64), Andrew Hall (M35-39), Mike Wien (M70-74) and Ilya Slepov (M40-44).

In a release, Ironman listed some other inspiring athletes that we’ll be watching compete in St. George this week:

  • Rajesh Durbal was born as a triple amputee, but that hasn’t stopped him from competing in triathlons, traveling the world, and inspiring millions of people. His foundation, Live Free, conducts events and seminars which have trained more than 500,000 people in 16 different countries to achieve their full potential and experience life at the highest level possible. He became the first triple-amputee to compete in the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona in 2010 and 2011. In addition, he holds a provisional patent in prosthetic quick-connect components to improve mobility and decrease limitations for amputees. Last year, with a group of athletes and para-athletes, he ascended the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. He will continue to inspire others who have had to overcome in St. George.
  • In 2018, David Haywood, from Belfast, Great Britain set out on a journey like no other during his gap year. David decided to bike around the world, covering over 21,000 miles. The journey covered 33 countries in 349 days. David also is a Guinness World Record holder for ‘most countries visited by bicycle in seven days’.
  • Athlete Zeinab Razaie will be the first Afghan woman to race in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Despite her athletic ambitions, she is unable to compete in her home country due to the Taliban’s rules. Razaie completed her first marathon in 2017 and ran a multi-stage ultramarathon across 250 km of the Mongolian Gobi Desert in 2018. Then, in February 2020, she completed the IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai and became the first Afghan woman to finish an IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon.
  • Joe Terry was drafted to the Seattle Seahawks out of college to play at the linebacker position. He was cut at just 22 years old and had to find a new purpose and meaning in life. Joe found triathlon as a challenge and decided to start competing. As he crossed the finish line of his first IRONMAN, Joe broke down in tears and was forever hooked on triathlons. Today, Joe works as a CEO at Culture Partners in San Francisco and trains to compete at his highest level.
  • 10 years ago, Beth Ulibarri was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. A few years later, she started competing in IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 races. She finds that her training helps her stay fit and healthy to manage and combat her MS.
  • Salt Lake City-based Sara Whittingham will compete in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship to combat the pain of Parkinson’s Disease. In 2020, Whittingham assumed her triathlon days were over after being diagnosed with the disease. After participating in a research study at the Cleveland Clinic on the effects of cycling on disease progression, Whittingham found that cycling made her feel better. Encouraged, she signed up for IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio with her husband and completed her fastest IRONMAN 70.3 since 2001.

Triathlon Magazine will be in St. George this week to cover the event – stay tuned for our ongoing coverage.

Related: 6 Takeaways from the Ironman World Championship St. George