CAMBRIDGE — The IRONMAN Maryland Triathlon returns to Cambridge for the sixth year on Saturday, Sept. 28, with more than 2,400 athletes from 65 countries registered this year.
According to IRONMAN Maryland Race Director Angie Hengst, this year’s delegation will be the largest international representation at IRONMAN Maryland to date. She takes on the role after longtime race director Gerry Boyle died in March.
“This year since our former race director Gerry Boyle passed away, (the event) will make be a little different,” Hengst said. “There will be a lot of people racing in his honor. We planned a tribute plan for our welcome ceremony.”
IRONMAN Maryland will begin at 6:30 a.m. with a 2.4-mile swim in the Choptank River along the Cambridge waterfront. Water temperatures are estimated to be between 73 and 79 degrees.
The 112-mile bike takes athletes through Dorchester County and into Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, with the course being flat, fast and scenic. The day finishes with a 26.2-mile run on flat country roads offering numerous straightaways, allowing athletes to size up their competition. The finish line will be at Long Wharf Park in Cambridge.
According to the IRONMAN Maryland website, one thing that makes this course unique is the 112-mile bike course, taking athletes through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. It is a critical waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway and containing nearly one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands.
The refuge consists of over 27,000 acres of freshwater impoundments, tidal wetlands, open fields, and mixed forests. The refuge is also home to more than 250 bird species, 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, 165 species of threatened and endangered plants, and numerous mammals that can be spotted throughout the year in the region’s marshes, forests, meadows and fields.
In 2018, first place male winner was Todd Burns, from the U.S., with a time of eight hours and 48 minutes; and the first place female was Maggie Walsh, from the U.S., with a time of nine hours and 27 minutes. Second place male was Edward Schmitt, from the U.S. with a time of eight hours and 54 minutes; Second place female was Ginny Cataldi with a time of nine hours and 42 minutes.
With competitors from all over the world, Dorchester Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Bill Christopher notices that more people from around the world fill up Dorchester County’s amenities including restaurants, lodging and shops.
“Basically hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts, Airbnb, are full of people,” Christopher said. “The restaurants will also be significantly fuller than normal. (Tourists) want to buy things that are local. Having that many people in that area increases the spending during that weekend and each of those dollars are then translated for folks that work here. There is a ripple effect in the local economy, putting us on a national stage.”
In 2016, Salisbury University’s BEACON Center, under the direction of Memo Diriker produced, the “Ironman Races in Dorchester County: 2016 Economic Impact” report. It showed the June 2016 Eagleman and October 2016 Ironman Maryland triathlons contributed $4.92 million to the local economy.
An estimated 10,000 athletes and guests from around the world came to Dorchester County for the races. Visitors stayed longer and spent more than the average tourist.
IRONClub Maryland, the nonprofit organization formed to support large-scale, high-impact endurance events in Dorchester County, released the results.
“On behalf of Dorchester County and IRONClub Maryland, I’d like to thank the community for rallying behind Ironman and enthusiastically supporting our local booster club,” Tourism Director and board member Amanda Fenstermaker said in 2016. “We’ve had a powerful return on investment—the IRONMAN races have generated about $15 million for our area economy over three short years.”
For information on Ironman, visit www.ironman.com.