Rwanda is readying itself to host Ironman 70.3, an international triathlon that includes a series of long-distance races and that will be returning for its fourth edition.
This is the first time the event, slated for August 14, is being hosted in East and Central Africa. Previous hosts include Morocco, Egypt and South Africa.
The event, also known as the Half Ironman, covers 70.3 miles hence the name, testing participant's mental and physical strength as they swim 1.9km, bike 90k, and run 21.1km.
The Rwanda race is organized by Global Events in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and the Rwanda Development Board and will be held in Rubavu District in western province.
Athletes will kick o with a 1.9km swimming race at Lake Kivu’s waterfront, followed by a 90km bike ride that will stretch through Gisenyi towards Mt Karisimbi near the Volcano National Park. It will be concluded with a 21.1km multi-lap run spanning the Lake Kivu shoreline along the Rubona Peninsula.
Registration began in February and about 200 people are so far participating, officials say.
“Considering earlier participation in previous host countries, we anticipated over 1500 people registering, but since this is a new event to Rwandans, we are still pushing for it and hoping for better turn out,” explained Michel Umurame, Ironman 70.3 Rwanda Race director.
The race is open to all. One may register as a sole participant or team up with two people to collaborate in a specific c activity.
“This is the world’s leading triathlon sports brand. This is an opportunity for Rwanda and the region to participate in another international activity of its kind,” said Bonita Umutoni, managing director, Global Events.
The globally recognized event, which has previously built a reputation for attracting thousands of participants and spectators, presents an opportunity for Rwanda's and the regional sports sectors as well as by those in leisure, hospitality and tourism, Mr Umurame said.
“It provides an environment for networking and learning from experienced participants and foreign tourists too,” he added.
“With confirmations of participants from over 20 countries, there is a different type of athlete who is also a tourist. Usually they don’t travel alone but in groups and with family, which I believe is an opportunity for the tourism sector to leverage on," Mr Umurame said.
The Rwanda competition will offer 30 qualifying spots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship scheduled to take place on August 26-27 next year in Lahti, Finland.