Updated August 12, 2019

Virginia pride is at an all-time high this morning, and rightfully so, after IRONMAN announced that Roanoke, Va is the new host city of 2020 Carilion Clinic Ironman 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge Triathlon. The event will take place on June 7, 2020. 

dodgy ridge mountain biking roanoke
Sam Dean Photography – Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Virginia’s Blue Ridge will serve as a multi-year host venue for the triathlon that was previously held in Williamsburg.

The people of Roanoke are eager to share the waters of Carvins Cove, the hills of Botetourt County, and the Roanoke River Greenway with nearly 2,500 athletes next year. Onlookers will get to witness lifetime goals be fulfilled at River’s Edge Park as athletes cross the finish line.

Keats McGonigal, Senior Regional Director for The IRONMAN Group said in the press release that there is a lot of excitement around adding Roanoke to the “IRONMAN Ohana.” 

Roanoke is the largest metropolitan area in Virginia’s mountain region and is known as a hub for outdoor recreation.

Carvins Cove

“There is a long history of endurance events in Virginia’s Blue Ridge area,” McGonigal says. “Bringing the IRONMAN 70.3 event to this destination provides a picturesque venue where athletes can achieve their dreams of crossing the finish line in the sport of triathlon.”

Landon Howard, president of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, said the regional tourism agency’s sports team had been actively courting Ironman for about a year and is the only host destination for the event.

“Becoming part of IRONMAN’s elite global race series further establishes our region as a premier sports destination on a national and international level,” Howard said in the press release.

Photo Courtesy of: Pete Eshelman of Roanoke

“The region’s beautiful topography coupled with its hospitality convinced Ironman officials to name Roanoke a host city,” Howard told The Roanoke Times.

General registration will open on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 with more information available at www.ironman.com/blueridge70.3. Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is acting as the housing agency for athletes and visitors for the event and is the only official housing bureau for it. An official housing link will be available when registration opens.

Words of a Triathlete

Photo of Scott Moir at Sunbelt Bakery Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga – Photo taken by Diana Bowers

Scott Moir, a West Point graduate and 5 years on active duty in the U.S. Army took a job promotion that brought him to Roanoke in 1991. He fell in love with the area and never left! His first triathlon was Smith Mountain Lake sprint tri in May of 2009. Moir is now 11 years into the sport and has completed 7 ironman-distance races and about a dozen 70.3/half Ironman-distance races with two more Ironman 70.3 races on his schedule for this year. We asked Moir what his thoughts are on Roanoke being chosen as the host city for 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 TRIATHLON.

1. Why do you feel Roanoke/VBR is the right choice for the Ironman 70.3?

I think a better question to ask is, “Why not the Virginia’s Blue Ridge region?” As an athlete, when I’m choosing a race I look for several things:  a convenient location; a course with a fair swim, a scenic bike course, and a run with lots of crowd support. Also, I look for a community that welcomes triathletes and has things to do between all of the race prep activities. And finally, I look for a great “race vibe.”

 The Carilion Clinic Ironman 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge will excel in all of these areas. First, we are easily accessible to athletes in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland… you get the point! Ironman athletes will travel for a good race, and we WILL put on a good race!

As for the course itself, just look around! We’ll be swimming in Carvin’s Cove – a pristine body of water surrounded by beautiful mountains. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the bike course will be one of the most scenic bike courses in the Ironman family of races. And finally, the run along the Roanoke River Greenway will be very spectator friendly. 

During the downtime athletes and their families have between race prep activities (check-in, bike drop-off, athlete briefings) there is more to do here than they will have time for. Outdoor activities, craft beer breweries, restaurants, museums…it’s all here!

Also, I believe that our community will rally around this event. From athletes, to volunteers, to spectators, people from the Virginia’s Blue Ridge area are going to show up and make this an event to remember. 
And finally, as far as offering a good “race vibe”, trust me, the people at Ironman do it right; they know how to throw a party! There are many other great races out there, but the excitement at an Ironman event is unmatched, in my opinion. 

2. What was your initial reaction when you learned that VBR was chosen as the host destination?

This one’s easy – I was stoked! Hey, I love to train here; why wouldn’t I love to race here, too? And if I feel that way, I know other like-minded athletes will, too.

My reasons aren’t all selfish – I know the value that a race like this will bring to our community. And it won’t be just during race weekend. People that come in for this race will see all the things that our community has to offer and they will come back. 

This is my 11th year of competing in triathlons. In that time I’ve competed in roughly 20 Ironman races in Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Kentucky, Idaho, and North Carolina. Each of these destinations was unique and was a great experience, which is why I continue to sign up for Ironman races. I consider myself fortunate to be able to train for these races in such a beautiful area and I can’t help but want to showcase what we have to other triathletes. 

So yeah, when I learned that the VBR was chosen to host this race it was like a dream come true. I’m excited to race in my hometown, I’m excited to show off my hometown, and I know the value the race will bring to my hometown. 

3. What do you think the athletes will enjoy most about racing in Roanoke, Va? 

Athletes don’t sign up for a race just for the race – they sign up for an experience. What athletes will like most about racing in this area will be the overall experience. The combination of what they’ll find in our community and what they’ll see out on the race course will leave an impression on them that will make them want to return. The beauty of our area, tremendous community support, and Ironman’s expertise in organizing a great event  are the ingredients that will make this an unforgettable experience for athletes and their families. 

4. Any other thoughts on the matter?

For a small city in Southwest Virginia, Roanoke and the surrounding areas have a very active and talented triathlon community. I would guess that there are at least 50 triathletes in this area who have completed either full Ironman (140.6 mile races) or Ironman 70.3 races; many having competed in multiple races. In our triathlon community we have several athletes who have qualified for and competed in Ironman World Championship races. We even have an Ironman 70.3 World Champion living right here in Roanoke.

For years we’ve dreamed of hosting an Ironman event in our region. And for years we heard that it would never happen. I’m thankful that Keats McGonical and Drew Wolff took a chance on us and came for a visit. I’m not at all surprised, though, that once they got here they shared our dream. 
As a local triathlete heavily involved in the local triathlon scene, I think I can speak for the local triathlon community. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Carilion Clinic, Virginia’s Blue Ridge, The Western Virginia Water Authority, Roanoke City Parks and Rec, and the members of all of our local municipalities who have worked to help make this a reality. 

Hosting an Ironman event in the VBR seemed like an impossibility but now it’s become a reality. For many triathletes finishing a 70.3-mile triathlon also seems like an impossibility. Come race the Carilion Clinic Ironman 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge race on June 7, 2020 and show that as the Ironman slogan states, anything is possible! 

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