A RECORD number of athletes are taking part in Ironman Weymouth today.

The event has been hit by heavy rain - but it's still going ahead as planned.

The swim was underway at 7.20am for professional men - although the course has been shortened to take into account the conditions.

A large crowd has been watching the swimmers take to the water. 

Organisers said: "In consultation and under the advisement of our specialist swim safety team, the swim will be shortened to 950 metres due to current and predicted conditions deteriorating.

"The race will start at 07:20 for professional men, 07:22 for professional women and 07:30 for age group athletes."

See tomorrow's Echo for a full report and check the website for all the pictures from the event.

Organisers say the event is now the biggest and most popular middle-distance triathlon in the UK and Ireland.

It comes as the county gears up to host the event once again, with organisers and Dorset County Council putting out advice and information to residents ahead of road closures.

Here's everything you need to know about road closures for this weekend's Ironman Weymouth

Who to call if you have issues with Ironman Weymouth road closures today

Emergency services will be allowed through the road closures and carers can also apply for passes.

People are advised to plan ahead, and allow extra time for their journeys.

This year’s race has a record, sold-out field of 2750 athletes, including more than 60 relay teams, from all over the UK and the world.

Once again, Dorset is the most represented county followed by Hampshire and Surrey. Excluding the United Kingdom, athletes from 32 countries will be travelling to Dorset this weekend to take on the 1.2-mile swim in Weymouth Bay, the 56-mile cycle through the Dorset countryside and the 13.1-mile run along the Weymouth Promenade with France the most represented international country followed by Ireland, Belgium and Germany. Athletes will be coming from as far afield as Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, India, Russia and South Africa.

Ironman 70.3 Weymouth has become the UK’s most popular race choice for first-time athletes, making up close to half the field with 1350 athletes set to participate at their first ever Ironman 70.3 race. This year’s race also sees the highest female participation rate across the UK and Ireland with nearly 600 women, making up 22 per cent of the total field.

Race director Alan Rose said: “It’s encouraging to see the growth of this race over the last few years, going from less than 1900 athletes in 2016, to 2500 last year and now 2750. We are grateful that athletes continue to make Ironman 70.3 Weymouth their race of choice.

“As organisers we are always looking to push the envelope to provide the best possible race experience for our athletes and to showcase Weymouth and the greater Dorset. We are looking forward to welcoming athletes and their families from around the UK and abroad as they come to race but also have an extended summer vacation. Weymouth is the ideal destination to race and also have a great family getaway weekend.”

Road closure information is available from www.ironman.com/weymouth70.3