Ironman headed to America's dairyland

MADISON, Wisc. -- The newest race in the Ironman franchise is off and running, the registration at least.

Ironman Wisconsin was officially opened for business today as registration for the race is now open. The full Ironman distance event--2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and marathon run--will take place in Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin Badgers, on September 15, 2002.

Madison was selected as a venue for an Ironman, which now includes 18 different races competing on each continent except Antarctica, for a variety of reasons. Not only was it rated the fifth fittest city in 2000 by Shape magazine, but with a sports-minded campus of over 40,000 students early into its fall term, this race may boast the largest crowd of spectators for any Ironman race.

"Madison represents a great fit for us," said Ironman North America president Graham Fraser. "The Midwestern U.S. is the only area where we didn't host a race and Madison was far and away the best site we visited."

Ironman Wisconsin will be presented through the cooperative efforts of Ironman North America, the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Wisconsin Sports Development Council. The five-year agreement makes Madison one of only four sites in the continental United States to host a sanctioned Ironman event.

"We were made to feel extremely welcome here," Fraser said. "Our goal with our events is to partner with the host communities, because in the end they are the ones who really make the event a success. Without that support, no event of this magnitude can take place. Madison has worked with us every step of the way and that combined with a great venue and courses is why we are here today."

There will also be 80 qualifying spots for the 2003 World Championships in Kona. Each age group will get a slot for the top man and another for the top woman. The balance of slots will be allotted relative to the number of participants in each group.

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