TOUTED to be as big as national cycling in Buninyong and expected to draw more than 1400 competitors – elite, celebrity and enthusiastic – to the city, IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat is officially on its way.
There has been plenty of talk about Ballarat playing host but it was not until Monday that Ironman Asia-Pacific confirmed a three-year deal with the City of Ballarat, and a $US25,000 ($26,913.07) professional prize pool for the prestigious event.
IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat will feature iconic city sites – a 1.9-kilometre swim in Lake Wendouree, a 90km cycle along Remembrance Drive under the Arch of Victory and a 21.1km half-marathon run about the lake district.
Ironman Asia-Pacific chief marketing officer Jeff Gillies said Ballarat’s strong tradition and success hosting major sporting events was just as much a key factor in bringing the high-profile event to the city as was the city’s picturesque course.
“It’s a destination that really enjoys great events and world-class events. It’s a partnership (with the City of Ballarat and Ballarat Regional Tourism) that is getting to the exciting part now,” Gillies said.
“A regional venue works well for us.
“It works in the sense that when people do a half-Ironman, they train really hard for it and it’s a very special day for them – sometimes that gets lost in a big city.”
The feature event is scheduled for November 16, drawing an elite and amateur field, featuring international Ironman competitor and multiple half-Ironman title-winner Luke Bell, who will act as event ambassador.
This year’s event will also carry 30 age-group qualifying sports for the Ironman 70.3 world championship in Austria in August 2015.
Plans are under way for a carnival lead-up in Ballarat, likely to include an IronKids event, relay teams and super teams showdowns between leading regional sporting clubs and corporate groups.
Gillies said hometown marathon legend Steve Moneghetti was a confirmed contender.
Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris was excited about the city’s opportunity to reinforce its reputation as Victoria’s regional sporting capital, building on major events like the Cycling Australia Road National Championships, the World Rowing Masters Regatta (to be held in October this year) and the AFL NAB Challenge matches.
“This builds Ballarat and the image of Ballarat and Victoria on the national and international sporting stage,” Morris said.
“Ballarat is a sporting destination of international quality.
“It’s a great opportunity for the council to get involved.”
Ballarat Regional Tourism chief executive officer George Sossi said the three-year hosting rights allowed the city a chance to make Ironman 70.3 a hallmark event on the same scale as the national cycling championships.