If a mask mandate was keeping spectators from witnessing Sunday's Sunbelt Bakery IRONMAN 70.3 in and around Chattanooga, that's no longer an excuse.
Based on the updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in line with Chattanooga and Hamilton County health measures, Ironman has announced that fully vaccinated athletes, volunteers, vendors, media and staff will no longer be required to wear face coverings during Sunday's triathlon. The only exception, according to an Ironman release, will be medical volunteers.
Tim Morgan, the chief officer of Chattanooga Sports, said the same policy applies to area residents seeking to cheer on the roughly 3,000 participants who will attempt to complete a 1.4-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.
"They have fully changed their policies and have basically fallen in line with what is happening across the nation," Morgan said. "At the end of the day, it's really the individual who determines whether or not they feel comfortable wearing a mask. They are trying to spread out their footprint to where there aren't as many areas of concentration, but they're obviously going to be some, so fans need to do what they're most comfortable doing.
"There will be a mix of people wearing and not wearing them."
Ironman representatives will provide masks to any athlete, volunteer, vendor, media or staff member who desires one, but they are no longer requiring on-site temperature screenings. Those involved with the competition will have to answer a health questionnaire before the racing begins.
Ross's Landing again will serve as the epicenter for this event, beginning with registration and packet pickup Friday and Saturday. A couple of Morgan's favorite spots for competition viewing away from Ross's Landing are on the Walnut Street Bridge to oversee the swimming stage and in Walker County for the cycling portion.