Ironman Sizing Up Fayetteville as Triathlon Site

Fayetteville is one of four cities in the Central U.S. vying to host one of the world’s premier endurance tests.

Officials with the Ironman Triathlon announced today that Northwest Arkansas’ Fayetteville is competing against Des Moines, Tulsa and Memphis to host the event in the late spring or early summer 2020. A final selection will be made in June, officials said.

Having an Ironman endurance race in Northwest Arkansas would build on the impressive list of outstanding events that continue to be added the region’s schedule. It would be a nice summertime addition to a spring/summer schedule that already includes the Bentonville Film Festival and Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Existing Ironman host communities have measured as much as $10 million in direct economic impact on the local economy, with the total rising to $13 million when indirect and induced impacts are figured in, Ironman officials said.

In the case of Fayetteville, the Ironman is likely to create a tourism boost that stretches well beyond the city. Hazel Hernandez of Experience Fayetteville said Ironman triathlons in other parts of the U.S. have generated about 12,000 hotel room nights over the course of a week. The athletes generally stay for three or four days.

Fayetteville would be the event’s hub, and the city has about 1,500 of the region’s 8,500 hotel rooms, meaning the event’s impact is certain to be regional.

“It’s good for our state to have the opportunity to host an internationally known event like Ironman,” said Kalene Griffith, the president of Visit Bentonville and a member of the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission. “Any time you can bring an event like that to the state, it’s a huge economic win.”

The new Central U.S. Ironman will be the first new full-distance Ironman triathlon introduced in the U.S. since 2014. Ironman officials visited Fayetteville earlier this month as part of the selection process.
 
“We are very excited about this opportunity to bring an Ironman event to the Central United States,” said Shane Facteau, chief operating officer for Ironman. “We have been looking into this particular area of the country for a while now and felt the time is right to add a brand-new full-distance Ironman triathlon to the U.S series.

“All four of these cities present great opportunities to put on a world-class Ironman triathlon through their unique landscapes, culture, history and hospitality, that our athletes and their families and friends would surely appreciate.”

The Ironman Triathlon Series is recognized as the world’s best full-distance triathlon series offering athletes the opportunity to push beyond their perceived limits by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles in route to completing one of the world’s most challenging single-day endurance races. Since its inception in 1978, the Ironman triathlon has come to represent the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit for both professional and amateur athletes. Consisting of more than 40 full-distance races globally, the series culminates in the pinnacle of triathlon with the Ironman World Championship held annually in Hawaii.

Pictured at the top: Ironman triathlon events, which include long-distance swimming, cycling and running, attract 1,500 to 2,000 participants.