Competitors came from all corners, representing 48 countries from Canada to Qatar and everywhere in between, with ages ranging from 18 to 79 years old. Despite the name – Ironman – 30% of the triathletes were women.
The race began at 6:45 in the morning with the 1.2 mile swim at the south end of Clearwater Beach. The course was changed from its original location off Pier 60 due to safety concerns with lingering weather conditions from Tropical Storm Ida.
Following the swim, participants had to tackle the steep inclines of the Memorial Causeway – both ways, three times – once by bike, then two laps running. The bike portion took triathletes from Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach all the way to Trinity Avenue via Countryside Blvd, then across the Bayside Bridge via McMullan Booth, exiting on Roosevelt Ave and returning to Pier 60.
Among this year’s participants was celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito. This was the 42 year old restaurant owner’s first entrance in the World Championship event. DiSpirito has competed in a number of other triathlons throughout the world, beginning with his first charity event three years ago.
Terenzo Bozzone, last year’s winner, was on hand to defend his title, but ultimately the championships went to Germany’s Michael Raelert and Great Britain’s Julie Dibens. Raelert, the younger brother of last year’s runner up, broke the course record with his overall time of 3:34:04. Persistence earned Dibens her championship. Lagging behind in her first Ironman competition, she has become a top finisher in recent years. “I trained for this all year – I can even go back and say that I've trained for this for a few years,” said Dibens. The first woman to finish in less than four hours, her overall time of 3:59:33 set a 70.3 record.
NBC will air the race in a 90 minute special on Sunday, June 6, 2010. Ironman has challenged the passion, determination and endurance of athletes since 1978, introducing the Ironman 70.3 in 2006. For more information, visit http://www.ironman.com/.