THE organisers of this year's Ironman Festival Weekend in Youghal in Mid August are very hopeful that the event will go ahead as planned.
However, they will have to work to health guidelines and are very much at the mercy of both national and international restrictions.
The 2020 Ironman scheduled to take palace in mid-June fell victim to the pandemic, but plans were immediately put in place for an even more exciting venture this year. Sunday, August 15 is the big date in the diary for the full Ironman, but the introduction of the half-Ironman on the day before along with the children's version, Ironkids, on Friday, have both attracted huge interest.
Declan Byrne, Regional Director of Ironman UK & Ireland, says at the moment it is all systems go from their side.
"We are now in full planning mode to deliver a triathlon festival weekend in Youghal. The hope is we will be able to proceed as planned but ultimately our direction will be governed by national health guidelines at the time.
"Cork and Youghal hold a special place in our hearts ever since the inaugural edition of Ironman Ireland, in 2019. It was a race you had to be there to believe. People didn’t seem to care about the adverse weather conditions."
Despite one of the wettest days of the year, that inaugural Ironman was deemed a massive success, as athletes from many parts of the world spoke afterwards in glowing terms about the new venture. The reaction has prompted the huge interest in the follow-up event.
Last year's cancellation brought disappointment to all who had put in the hard training miles, but many immediately vowed to channel their energies towards August 2021. With many local competitors having secured entry, there has been no shortage of activity on the roads of East Cork over the past few months (when restrictions allowed). Cyclists in particular have familiarized themselves with the two-lap picturesque route that heads straight into the rolling countryside.
The addition of the Half-Ironman offers the opportunity for a wider sphere of athletes to take part. A total of 1,600 have booked the place at the start line on August 14 for the 1.9k swim, the 90k cycle and the half marathon run. In comparison 2,500 will undertake the full event on the following day.
"We have a considerable number of competitors from the USA and the UK entered particularly in the full event" confirms Delcan Byrne. "Hopefully they will all be given the green light to participate"
Meantime, a whopping 1,500 budding young competitors, ranging in age from four to 16, are listed to take part in the Ironkids event.