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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Ironman Is Expected To Bring Over $8 Million To Washington County This Weekend

A photo of three people in running in ankle-deep water with a sunset in the background.
Courtesy of Ironman PR
Over 3,500 athletes will be competing in St. George’s Ironman 70.3 this year. County and city leaders say the influx of visitors is a boost to the local economy.

The Ironman triathlon is returning to southern Utah after last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.

More than 3,500 people are competing in Ironman 70.3 this weekend. The Washington County economy is expected to get a $8 to $10 million boost as a result. In years past, it saw a $6 to $7 million impact. That’s according to Kevin Lewis, the director of the county’s tourism office.

“The visitors that come are really the spark that keeps our entire economy moving,” he said. “They bring the dollars in. They ignite the community in some ways. And then those dollars, you know, circulate around and around and around.”

Lewis said the county didn’t see a sizable decrease in tourism dollars with the race canceled last year. Other visitors flocking to public lands in the region helped keep things steady, he said.

He said he’s glad to have event competitors back in town for one of the first Ironman competitions in the country since the start of the pandemic. Lewis said he’s happy with how race officials worked with county and health leaders to implement safety precautions.

“We recognize that this event is being looked at all across the globe,” he said. “All eyes are on us and we want to make it successful, so we're doing everything we can to be that way.”

David Cordero is the spokesperson for the city of St. George. Though local residents may be annoyed about the influx of people and closed roads, he said he hopes they see the big picture.

“It can allow us to do a lot of really neat things, provide a high level of service for our residents and also keep our tax amounts low,” Cordero said. “Our property taxes are some of the lowest around. And Ironman is a big part of that, as is tourism as a whole.”

The world championship for Ironman 70.3 is planned for southern Utah in the fall. Lewis expects it will bring even more money to the economy — to the tune of $25 million.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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