Thirty-five years ago, Chattanooga’s downtown was desolate; its riverfront was polluted; its air quality was substandard. But in the 1990s, the city began to transform.
Now, between its green mountains, blue waters and revitalized downtown, Chattanooga attracts tourists from all over the world. And this month, it will attract more than 3,000 athletes from all over the world during the two-day Ironman 70.3 World Championship event.
Since 2014, Chattanooga has hosted Ironman events, and every year, the prestigious triathlon has returned, both the Ironman 70.3 in May and the Ironman 140.6 in September. This month, for the first time, Chattanooga will also host both the men’s and women’s Ironman 70.3 world championships, making the city the first in the world to host all four events in one year.
Indeed, like the city itself, Ironman Chattanooga has finally arrived. But, like the city itself, Ironman Chattanooga’s road to glory was not without bumps — or tacks and oil, as was the case in the inaugural local event. As the Scenic City prepares for this record-setting month, we take a look at Ironman, Chattanooga and the people who make it possible.