Two international triathlons to kick off in Taitung

Two international triathlons, the 5150 Taitung Taiwan and 2017 Ironman 70.3 Taiwan, will be staged March 18 and 19, respectively, in southeastern Taiwan's Taitung County, with nearly 3,000 athletes from 37 countries and territories expected to take part in the tests of endurance combining swimming, cycling and running.

Part of annual global series organized by U.S.-based World Triathlon Corp., the events each begin with a swim in Huoshui Lake at Taitung Forest Park before culminating with bike and foot races through Taitung City and along the county's Pacific coastline.

A number of leading professional triathletes are set to participate in this year's Taitung competitions, including Ruedi Wild of Switzerland, who won third place in the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, as well as Timothy O'Donnell of the U.S., who claimed bronze in the 2015 Ironman World Championship.

Top local triathlete Li Shiao-yu will also compete in the 2017 Ironman 70.3 Taiwan. In 2010, she became the first professional athlete from the country to qualify for the prestigious Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

The two competitions are named for the varying distances covered, with the 5150 Taitung Taiwan spanning 51.5 kilometers, the Olympic standard, and the 2017 Ironman 70.3 Taiwan stretching over 70.3 miles, or 113 km, a half-Ironman. Routes for the two races largely overlap, with much of the road courses for both running along the South-Link Highway.

The popularity of the Ironman 70.3 Taiwan was highlighted last year when it overcame WTC events in more than 100 other countries and territories to top a Will Attend Next Year poll voted for by the organization's athletes.

According to race sponsor the Taitung County Government, the routes will raise international awareness of the region's stunning natural scenery including its spectacular canyon and coastal views. At least 5,000 overseas visitors, including competitors, family members and support staff, are expected to travel to Taitung for the competitions, it added.

Launched in 2010, the Ironman 70.3 Taiwan has emerged as a premier event on the WTC calendar. Held in southern Taiwan's Pingtung County for six consecutive years, it moved to Taitung in 2016 to coincide with the inaugural edition of the 5150 race.

Source: Taiwan Today