Ironman Asia renews this weekend in South Korea

Cheju Island, South Korea was the site of the return of Ironman Asia.  Credit: World Triathlon Corporation
The inaugural Ironman Asia, to be held Sunday on the South Korean island of Cheju, is not quite as new as the inaugural tag makes it sound.

One of four events added this year to the World Triathlon Corporation's growing Ironman franchise, Ironman Asia is managed by the same group that organized Ironman Japan, which was discontinued after the 1997 race.

Next year, the same event will be hosted in Japan, and the following year, back in South Korea.

Nearly 1,100 athletes will compete in the race. The vast majority are Japanese, many of them veterans of the Ironman Japan event. A total of 18 nations will be represented in the field of competitors.

Cheju is a small, lushly vegetated island of 1,845 square kilometers located off the southern tip of South Korea. It is dominated by Halla Mountain, situated at its center. Tourism is its only industry.

The 2.4-mile swim will take place in warm, shallow water at Chungmun Beach. The bike leg will loop around the entire island once exactly 112 miles, as though the island had been designed for an Ironman. The route features a mixture of rolling hills and flat stretches. The three-loop run finishes in front of the Lotte Hotel.

The organizers have attracted a respectable pro field to compete. The womens contingent is headed by the legendary Paula Newby-Fraser, 38, an eight-time winner of the Hawaii Ironman who has taken a more laid-back approach to racing in the past two seasons. A native of Zimbabwe, Newby-Fraser has already won another of this years new Ironman events, in South Africa.

Newby-Frasers toughest competition should come from Aussie Robyn Roocke, 30, who won the New Zealand Long-Course Championship and placed third at Ironman New Zealand earlier this year. Katja Mayer, 32, of Germany, who won last years inaugural Ironman Florida, is another contender.

The biggest name on the mens side is Ken Glah, 36, of the United States. In his 16th year as a professional, Glah has won Ironman Brazil (formerly Ironman Pau de Azucar) the past two years. Glah will have his hands full with Petr Vabrousek, 26, of the Czech Republic, who won Ironman South Africa and placed second behind Chris Legh at Ironman California in May.

Look for results of the race here on Monday.

Discuss This Article