By Paul Jones
Ironman Wales has been postponed by event organisers, due to the pandemic, for the second successive year.
The high profile event – one of triathlon’s biggest weekend’s in Wales – was scheduled for September at its traditional Tenby venue.
But the Pembrokeshire race has been put back to 2022 due to escalating coronavirus rates across the UK and uncertainty over the lifting of necessary restrictions.
In an email sent to athletes on Friday afternoon, organisers said they had been working with Pembrokeshire Council to “find a way forward for this year’s event”.
But uncertainties around moving to alert level 0 in Wales and the “unique event site” in the walled town meant it could not go ahead.
The letter said: “Uncertainties around moving to alert level 0 in Wales, the current epidemiological infection rate and the unique event site at Tenby and Pembrokeshire as well as large crowds expected to gather on race day were discussed in a meeting with local authorities.
“Due to the unique race site in Tenby, the recommendation has been made not to support the host agreement for this year and to reschedule the event to 2022.
“While we were hoping otherwise, we respect the council’s position and will follow its recommendation to reschedule the event to 2022.
“So, it is with a heavy heart that we announce today that Ironman Wales will return on September 11, 2022.”
Crowds typically line the zig zags down to Tenby’s North beach on the morning of the event to watch the iconic swim, which kicks off the long distance triathlon.
Athletes must swim 3.8km, before cycling 180km and finishing with a full marathon.
The Ironman event regularly attracts thousands of entrants as well as their supporters, who typically pour into Tenby town to watch athletes cross the finish line until well into the night.
The statement continued, “The Tenby and Pembrokeshire community have for many years been incredibly supportive of the Ironman Wales event.
“Despite the joint disappointment of not being able to host the race in 2021, we are pleased to share that a new five-year host venue agreement has been reached with Pembrokeshire County Council to ensure that Ironman Wales will happen annually in Tenby until 2026.
“We acknowledge that this latest shift is not the news any of us wanted to receive but we remain just as focused on creating an exceptional race in the future.
“If you are an athlete currently registered for Ironman Wales and do not receive an email within the next two hours, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: https://t.co/pzEjqvW0KM
— Welsh Triathlon (@WelshTriathlon) July 16, 2021
“We thank our athletes for their continued understanding and look forward to returning with a great event next year,” they added.
Phil Baker, Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Major Events, supported the decision to postpone the event originally planned for September 12, 2021.
“The postponement of Ironman Wales 2021 will, of course, be a disappointment to very many people, myself included, but this decision has been taken with public safety rightly at the forefront,” he stated.
“Given the sheer number of spectators that have always supported Ironman, the narrow nature of parts of the course and the uncertainty that remains over the Covid-19 situation, following extensive discussions with organisers we have reluctantly decided it is not possible for us to support the event this year.
“While we now very much look forward to Ironman Wales Pembrokeshire in September 2022, we can confirm that we have also signed a five year host agreement to ensure that we keep Ironman Wales here in Pembrokeshire from 2022 – 2026.”