More than 1,600 people from 56 countries and territories will do battle in a bid to become Ironman (Illustrative image. Source: VNA)

Da Nang (VNA)
- More than 1,600 people from 56 countries and territories will do battle in a bid to become Ironman.

Taking place next week in the central city of Da Nang, it’s the largest international multi-sport evening in the country. More than 600 of those athletes taking part are from right here in Vietnam – that’s 10 times the amount of local athletes compared to 2015.

Sponsored by Techcombank, 50 of the best athletes to compete will qualify for the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship in the Philippines in August. Thirty from that event will make it through to the World Championships in South Africa a month later.

This is the fourth time the race has been held. It starts with a 1.9km swim along Hyatt Regency beach followed by a gruelling 90km bike ride along the coastline and if that’s not enough, ends with a 21km run.

This year’s event is themed “Be Greater Together” and its one of the few sports where professionals and amateurs go head to head and race alongside each other. 

So far, the relay category has filled up with 160 groups are taking turns to swim, cycle and run.

And if they do find the time to look around, they’ll spot some great views while in the water, as this swim course was voted ‘Best Triathlon Swim Short Course 2017’ by multi-sport magazine AsiaTri.

The professional field will be one of the most exciting ever this year with a strong number of male and female athletes. Headlining the men’s field will be defending champion Tim Van Berkel and 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed. Joining the race there are prominent male triathletes such as Sam Betten, Mike Phillips and Brad Williams.

The women’s competition will feature defending champion Anna Eberhardt and former two-time Ironman 70.3 Vietnam Champion Caroline Steffen.

And it’s not just the Ironman event that will get people sweating. There’s a number of other events and activities will be organised leading up to the big race on May 13. They include the 3rd edition of Ironkids and 2nd edition of the Sunrise Sprint to be held on May 12 as well as the 3rd edition of the Newborns Run Out to be held on May 11.

This year’s Ironkids will feature an ocean swim for those taking part in the Aquathlon (swim/run) category with a 100m swim and 1km run for ages 6-10 and a 300m swim and a 2km run for ages 11-14. There will also be a run only category for both age groups.

The Sunrise Sprint provides a great opportunity for new triathletes to get into the sport and for competitive athletes that have not had time to train for the longer distance to still engage in healthy and wholesome competition. The shorter format Sunrise Sprint consists of a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run that will trace portions of the main Ironman course event and will also have a relay category.

The Newborns Vietnam Run Out is a fun way people to get involved and for the local community to come together for a short run to raise awareness and funds for Newborns Vietnam, a charity committed to reducing infant mortality in Vietnam.

Last year, Tim Van Berkel of Australia and Anna Eberhardt of Hungary won the men’s and women’s professional titles.

The Ironman Vietnam race has helped raise more than 50,000 USD to support Newborns Vietnam.

The central city of Da Nang also agreed to host the event until 2022. Vietnam is the 30th country in the world and the eighth Asia-Pacific country to host an Ironman triathlon.-VNA