Heather Jackson became a back-to-back Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga winner in May. (Photo: Staff)

Chattanooga is hosting the Ironman 70.3 World Championship this weekend, so more than 4,000 top athletes and countless supporters will soon descend on the Scenic City.

“With its dramatic backdrop, striking Riverfront and fast swim course through the Tennessee River, Chattanooga is well-equipped to play host,” Ironman CEO Andrew Messick said in a prepared statement.

It’s a “historic year” for the event because it will include the largest athlete field ever for an Ironman 70.3. This year is also the first two-day Ironman 70.3 World Championship, which allows for focus on female athletes Sept. 9 and male competitors Sept. 10, Messick said.

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The 2017 field of athletes will tackle a 1.2-mile swim in the Tennessee River, followed by a 56-mile bicycle ride through Lookout Mountain and into downtown Chattanooga, capped with a 13.1-mile run along the Tennessee Riverwalk and Riverfront Parkway, finishing at Ross’s Landing—all of which must be completed before an eight-and-a-half-hour cutoff time, according to a news release.

Crowds lined the course at a previous 70.3 Ironman event to cheer on Ironman competitors. (Photo: Staff)

In order to qualify for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, more than 185,000 age group athletes competed to earn slots at over 100 Ironman 70.3 events held worldwide.

Athletes are coming from 90 countries, regions and territories.

Fifty-two percent of the registered athletes hail from North America.

Twenty-five percent are coming from Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 12 percent of the field.

This year, returning age group champions from the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship on the women’s side are Janine Willis, Katrine Amtkjaer Nielsen, Lesley Tuggle and Raeleigh Harris.

On the men’s side, returning age group champions are Brian Boyle, Harry Barnes, Rodolphe Von Berg and Ryan Giuliano.

The entire event will be four days and include an array of activities and entertainment, kicking off with a free celebration Sept. 6 from 6 to 10 p.m.

“The community is invited to get out and show the athletes and visitors some true Southern hospitality as they are introduced to the Made in Tennessee Celebration, featuring bluegrass and country artists whose careers were made in Tennessee,” according to a news release.

The festivities include a shopping and dining experience, live music, and more along Broad Street between West Aquarium Way and West Third Street, with the Tennessee Aquarium as the backdrop for the main entertainment.

The Broad Street restaurants and shops will showcase Southern-inspired foods, wines and spirits. Click here for the full event schedule for the Made in Tennessee Celebration. 

Click here for more information about children’s runs and road closures.

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