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GALLERY: Thousands of athletes take on Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire

By Thomas Parkes | Staffordshire | News | Published:

More than 2,600 athletes descended on Staffordshire for the Ironman 70.3 in glorious sunshine.

Crowds of people gathered to back the triathletes as they swam, cycled, and ran across the county.

And visitors – despite not having anyone in particular to support – turned out to cheer on all of the competitors.

Jennie Clark, from Stafford, watched the event with two-year-old son Ewan.

Jennie said: "We've come out and Ewan has been clapping them on – it's about being a good sport.

"We didn't go to the one at Shugborough because it's hard to get there with all the road closures.

"Here in Stafford we've been able to drive, park and then walk in – and we combined it with shopping, too.

"It's a great achievement for the athletes. I couldn't do it – it's hard enough doing four miles.

"I've enjoyed the event and Ewan has as well."

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The triathletes had to tackle a 1.2-mile swim in the Chasewater reservoir and a 56-mile bike course through the countryside outside Lichfield, Burton-upon-Trent, and across Cannock Chase area of outstanding natural beauty.

Competitors finished with a 13.1-mile run at Riverway, in an around Stafford town centre, before finishing in Market Square.

And for the first time this year, Stafford Castle became a part of the 70.3 mile course.

Loud music accompanied by cheers blared out – complete with inflatable 'Ironman' sticks handed out to spectators – as the competitors finished off in Stafford town centre.

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George Goodwin claimed the top spot, with Will Clarke claiming second and Elliot Smales finishing third.

Lucy Charles-Barclay won in the ladies event, with second place going to Emma Pallant and third to Katrina Rye.

George said: "It's really good. I'm in good form and put a good race together and had fun.

"They're all great runners so I had to work hard all the way through."

The medals were presented by the leader of Stafford Borough Council Patrick Farrington.

Allan Burnett and Kaye Burnett travelled from Barnsley to watch their son Elliot Smales, who took the title last year.

Kaye, aged 51, said: "We're very proud of him.

"We follow him every time on the tracker when he runs and when we can't be there.

"It's nice and it's a good feeling here, a good atmosphere and the people are good as well.

"It amazes me every time that he can do it and when he finishes he's like 'it was ok' and I'm exhausted and he's not – it's astounding."

Rows of people applauded and made noise at the athletes came racing down the final section.

Tarnya Tokeley, from Stafford, attended the event with Craig Tokeley, one-year-old Charlie and seven-year-old Maisey.

She said: "We're here just in general – we're here to see it goes.

"It's good for the area as well to support local people and the professionals as well.

"We massively cheer them on.

"I also think it's good for the children – to get them involved by seeing something like this.

"It's such a difficult event and we cheer them on through it."

The event is the only race in the UK to offer qualification to the Ironman 70.3 2019 World Championship in Nice, France.

It is also one of four races in Europe, and 20 globally, to be selected as a “Women For Tri” qualifying race, offering 25 additional World Championship qualification slots exclusively for female athletes.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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