A MAJOR triathlon event is underway in Weymouth today in what is set to be another huge boost for the resort.

Unfortunately, athletes and spectators were greeted by rain on the start line this morning.

The Ironman 70.3 Weymouth, a mammoth sporting event which sees hundreds of contestants take part, was due to kick off at around 7am in the morning. However, a delay until 7.25 was announced this morning when the Pro athletes started the swim in Weymouth Bay. 

The full event involves a swim of 1.2 miles in Weymouth Bay, a cycle ride of 56 miles around the countryside, and then a run on the final stretch of 13.1 miles.

Around 2,750 athletes took part in last year’s challenge.

In response to a yellow weather warning of rain issued by the Met Office for tomorrow, race director Dean Smith said: "Safety is our main priority.

"At the moment we are not making any changes but we will monitor the weather regularly throughout the night and then well before the race starts in the morning we will be looking at whether we need to make any changes.

"The race is currently scheduled to go ahead as planned."

Road closures include Weymouth Esplanade towards the Pavilion end, which will be closed for most of the day from 6am to 7pm and Preston Beach Road, closed from 4am to 6pm from Melcombe Avenue to Overcombe roundabout.

Various road closures will be in place for brief periods of the day along the cycle route.

A full list of closures can be found at dorsetecho.co.uk

Great Britain’s Elliot Smales is looking to defend his 2018 IM 70.3 Weymouth first-place finish. After a strong 2018 season, he continues to see podium finishes in his 2019 season. With a third place finish at 2019 Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire, a second place finish at Ironman 70.3 Dun Laoghaire and a first place finish at Ironman 70.3 Jonkoping, Smales will be one to watch through the race.

Fellow Brit Sam Pictor finished three minutes behind Smales and claimed second place at last year’s Ironman 70.3 Weymouth. Pictor seems to thrive in unpredictable weather, as he used this to his advantage in last year’s race. Rounding last year’s podium was Sam Proctor, who finished in third place. Proctor is looking to improve on this finish and will be a strong contender for the top of the podium this year.

The professional women’s field will have tough competition for the top of the podium, with five of Great Britain’s strongest racers gearing up for this race. Powerhouse India Lee crossed the finish line in first place last year, and she is ready to defend her title once again

Looking to push the pace Fenella Langridge will be aiming to improve on her third place finish in 2018. Langridge battled it out in the rain and wind last year, and her determination saw her finish three minutes behind Lee.

Another pro to watch in the swim is Claire Hann, who is a contender to be first out of the water.

For Ironman information see eu.ironman.com