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KUER’s Southeast Utah Bureau is based in San Juan County. The Southwest Utah Bureau is based in the St. George area. Both initiatives focus on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues, faith and spirituality and other topics of relevance to Utahns.

St. George Ironman Race Canceled Due To COVID Concerns

Aerial view of St. George, Utah.
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An aerial view of St. George, Utah. St. George may host one of the first Ironman races in North America since the pandemic began.

Updated 11:32 am MDT, 8/12/20

The 2020 St. George Ironman has been canceled. Race officials said the decision came from the direction of local authorities, according to an email sent Monday to athletes who had signed up to participate.

Athletes have the option to defer to a number of races that are planned in 2021.

And for the first time in 43 years, the St. George Marathon has been called off. It’s the latest fall event to be axed due to COVID-19 concerns —following the Ironman and Huntsman World Senior Games.

The marathon had originally been scheduled for Oct. 3 but organizers shut it down because of the challenge in making it safe for participants and volunteers, according to a press release from the city.

Those who registered for the 26.2 mile run are being offered a full refund or can defer to the scheduled 2021 race.

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Originally published 6 a.m. MDT, 8/6/20

Ironman triathlons have been canceled or postponed since March and St. George could be one of the first cities in North America to host the race since the start of the pandemic. It’s one of the biggest events in the area, bringing in thousands of visitors and athletes, as well as millions of dollars to the local economy. It was originally planned for May, but has been rescheduled for Sept. 19. 

Washington County Tourism Director Kevin Lewis said the event is still on track because of the support of local leaders and health officials. Also he said it’s because the region has had a “moderate” COVID-19 outbreak. 

But it’ll look different — there will be no gatherings before or at the finish line and volunteers won’t interact with the athletes. Those participating will be self contained, taking care of their own equipment and resources.

The changes may be disappointing to some, Lewis said. 

“It’s hard to see that energy and enthusiasm go away, you hate to see that happen,” he said. “But the plus side is trying to do whatever you can to get us back to some sense of normalcy and see that something like this can take place is another important factor in helping us to adapt to the new world we’re in.”

Decisions about the event are made with input from local leaders and health professionals, Lewis said. 

And the health department has given the OK to continue planning for it. Even though the race attracts athletes from across the world, Southwest Utah Public Health Department Spokesperson Dave Heaton said he doesn’t expect that to lead to more cases. 

“We haven’t seen any outbreaks that we’ve been able to link with out of area travelers coming in for tourism or events,” Heaton said. “Not that there isn’t a risk there, but so far we haven’t seen that become an issue.” 

Though it’s been pushed back to next month, Lewis said they’re taking it day by day and ultimately the Ironman Group will decide the fate of the race.

Lexi Peery is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George. Follow Lexi on Twitter @LexiFP

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