2012 Ironman 70.3 another hit for Augusta - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

2012 Ironman 70.3 another hit for Augusta

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

Swimming, running, and biking- three sports put together that create a single unique event: the triathlon.

The toughest test for all triathletes is the Ironman, and for the fourth straight year, Augusta has hosted the world's largest half-Ironman.

"The ESI Ironman 70.3 Augusta once again is awesome," says Augusta Sports Council CEO Brinsley Thigpen. "It's been fun."

The athletes jumped in the Savannah River early Sunday morning, kicking off the race with a 1.2 mile swim downstream.

From there, it's a 56 mile bike ride before closing with a 13.1 mile run through Downtown Augusta.

It's a grueling test, but for these athletes, that challenge is the fun part.

"I think that's part of the fun is being in a little pain and not wanting to keep going," says participant Juan David Cardona.

The total length of the course is 70.3 miles, hence the name Ironman 70.3.

The Augusta Sports Council says they put together a course that is challenging for all of the nearly 3000 racers, regardless of their skill level.

"70.3 miles is a challenge, no matter what," says Thigpen. "It's a great event if you want to be challenged as a professional or if you want to just do it for a first timer."

But the course is also designed to be spectator friendly, and many took advantage of that layout.

Hundreds lined the course, rooting for the racers with signs and cowbells, hoping to help them pedal a little faster and push a little harder.

"Her full goal is to get to the full Ironman," says Stephanie Hackett, who came from Atlanta to support her friend, Anna. 

Hackett and two friends hold signs, one which reads 'Anna is my hero."

"Hopefully, we're giving her that extra kick to get to the finish," she adds.

"To see somebody on the side when you're tired, it gives you that extra boost," says Brandi Barker, who came from Madison, Mississippi to cheer on her husband.

For many of the athletes, the prize is simply completing the challenge and crossing the finish line.

"[It's] amazing," says participant Shilonqua Lee, running in her second Ironman 70.3. "There's people there cheering for you. You're a rock star when you cross the finish line."

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