Memphis will soon be home to an IRONMAN Half beginning in 2020. The 70.3 Half IRONMAN will take place at Shelby Farms Park with a 1.2-mile swim, a 13.1-mile run inside the park, and a 56-mile bike ride that begins and ends in Shelby Farms, for a combined 70.3-mile course.

Kevin Kane, CEO of Memphis Tourism, says the economic impact of the race could be around $10 million annually.

Memphis, which has historically been known as one of the unhealthiest cities, is changing its reputation as a world-class city for races and triathlons. Part of the decision to host a Half IRONMAN in Memphis is due to the sprawling Shelby Farms Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will be the charitable partner for the event, and Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of the research hospital’s fundraising and awareness arm, says the organization is proud to add another premier athletic event that would propel the mission of St. Jude.

“We hope this will be the beginning of a long-standing partnership,” Shadyac says.

The IRONMAN company signed a three-year deal with the park, and the first race will take place on Oct. 3, 2020, with an expected attendance of 2,500–3,000 participants.

IRONMAN officials state, “As a late-season race, athletes can expect cooler fall temperatures and an abundance of family activities in Memphis. With the event centered at Shelby Farms Park, there is something for everyone, even those not racing. From paddleboarding to horseback riding, or playing on the Woodland Discovery Playground, everyone is sure to have a great time.”

“The musical and nightlife of Beale Street. The southern smoke of Memphis BBQ. We’re looking forward to showing off our hospitality and culture,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris during the announcement at Shelby Farms Park.

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By Christin Yates