Preparations underway for first ever ‘Ironman Western Massachusetts’

For the first time ever, world-class athletes are flying into western Massachusetts to compete in the Ironman.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 4:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 6:23 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - For the first time ever, world-class athletes are flying into western Massachusetts to compete in the Ironman.

“We’re amped up. There’s going to be like 1,200 to 1,400 athletes, high-level athletes, participating in this event and their families,” said Springfield Police spokesperson Ryan Walsh.

This Sunday, western Massachusetts will welcome some of the top athletes in the world to participate in the first-ever Ironman Western Massachusetts. At the Springfield Police Department, it’s a week full of preparation before these athletes will swim, bike, and run for a total of 70.3 miles before crossing the finish line.

“A lot of them will likely be doing training in the days leading up, like getting acclimated to the course, so they’re going to be out there with our officers,” Walsh added.

If your weekend travels take you to downtown Springfield, Walsh said to prepare to take alternate routes and leave yourself extra time as most closures will begin at 6 a.m. Sunday.

“It’s really that downtown area by the riverfront and city hall, really on Sunday, where we are dealing with some different road closures,” Walsh noted.

Court Square, from East Columbus Avenue to State Street, will be blocked off from 8 a.m. Saturday until 8 p.m. Sunday. The North and South End bridges will be partially closed Sunday.

“The South End bridge will be cleared up by 8:30. The North End bridge, that’s not going to be until they come back on their bikes later in the afternoon,” Walsh explained.

It’s not just in downtown Springfield. World-class athletes will take to the streets all across western Massachusetts. The bike course, a daunting 50 miles, spans from Springfield to Southwick and back. The swim will consist of a 1.2 mile stretch of the Connecticut River in downtown Springfield. After repeated concerns over discharge in the Connecticut River and rain in the forecast, we’re also getting answers from Ironman officials on their efforts to ensure swimmers’ safety. Organizers said in a statement:

“Ironman performs stringent and comprehensive water testing before all our events as required by the governing body of the sport, USA Triathlon. We perform this test much closer to the events and will do so in Massachusetts in coordination with the Connecticut River Conservancy.”

If there is an issue, Walsh said, “in other events in other cities, if something’s not right, they just scrap one of the three events.”