For the thousands of competitors who have conquered Louisville’s Ironman competition in the nine years it’s taken place here, the turn for home and the sight of Fourth Street Live! means a personal victory is in sight.
On Oct. 15, with picture perfect weather, almost 3,000 athletes started that journey by stepping into the Ohio River. Ahead of them, a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of biking the rolling hills of Oldham and Henry Counties, and a full 26.2 mile marathon through the city.
The winner, James Burke of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, crossed the Fourth Street Live! finish line eight hours, 48 minutes and 53 seconds later. The first woman to finish, Christine Nichol, completed her Ironman journey shortly afterward.
Over the next seven hours, competitors provided a steady stream of victories, each exulting in the completion of a goal that many have dedicated their lives to. The emotional victory of each athlete, finishing what is considered the ultimate feat in sport, was felt throughout the entire Fourth Street Live! district, as support teams, friends, and families gathered to congratulate their newly named Ironman.
“Ironman is a great event for the city, both from an economic and social perspective. Ironman athletes come to Louisville many days before the competition and often stay afterward,” said Mayor Greg Fischer prior to the 2015 event. “We get to showcase all that’s great about Louisville while meeting these hard-charging athletes, who are often business executives, entrepreneurs and leaders in their respective fields.”
The work and collaboration of residents, government agencies, facility operators, Louisville Sports Commission, and Fourth Street Live!, all culminate in creating “one of the best finishing experiences on the IRONMAN circuit,” Eric Atnip, IRONMAN Race Director expressed. Atnip continued, “the outdoor area at Fourth Street Live! captures the excitement of the finish line and amplifies it. You can feel the energy from blocks away, and it pulls the athletes to the finish. In addition to the amazing venue, the staff at Fourth Street Live! are fantastic to work with. Each year they go above and beyond to help us make the event a success.”
Since its start in Louisville in 2007, more than 18,000 individuals have crossed the Fourth Street Live! finish line. Along the way, competitors from all over the world have passed local landmarks and explored the beautiful countryside of Oldham and Henry counties. Louisville is among only 39 locations for official Ironman competitions, and will continue through at least 2019.