On Wednesday, 20 February, further details of Ironman Youghal were relayed to a packed Town Hall. It was standing room only as the information night commenced with an address from one of the main organisers, John Innes. One of the key points about Ironman Youghal is the high percentage of U.S. entrants. “They are not going to come for just 4 days”, said John Innes. With that, and the proven statistic that 70% of athletes bring 2-3 supporters with them, Youghal and East Cork are set for a huge influx of visitors, not only in the few days leading up to the competition on 23 June but earlier and later. John said that cyclists from all over Ireland, from as far away as Belfast, have been visiting already to try out the route. This will continue in the coming weeks as athletes that compete at this level of competition seek every advantage that comes from knowing, and assessing, the routes before the big day. John continued, “We really need to roll out a big East Cork Céad Míle Fáilte, as it will make all the difference to returning athletes and their families in the coming years of the competition.”
Aileen Murray, Youghal Socio-Economic Group, reiterated John’s sentiments and added the importance of East Cork maximising the benefits of such a world renowned event coming here. The eyes of the world will be focused on Youghal and the surrounding areas. Aileen spoke of the realisation of what is ahead finally hitting home when she, John and Helen Mulcahy from Youghal Town Hall, went to Tenby to see Ironman Wales. Tenby is comparable to Youghal in many ways, not least of which it is a historic, walled town by the sea. 1,800 athletes competed in Tenby in 2016 – in 4 days that translated to GBP£8 million for the town.
Together with Cork County Council, the Ironman Committee has made some necessary plans to cope, first and foremost, with athlete safety. This, of course, includes rolling road closures. Assurances were made, however, that the N25 would not be affected by these closures. There will be some local disruption in the days ahead of the competition with the setting up of venues such as the Athlete Village in Green Park, and four tented Food and Craft Villages around town. Extra Gardaí will be on duty to deal with traffic and security. The crowd was reminded that any car travelling on a closed road is not insured.
Fellow committee member, Ricky Devereaux is in charge of marshalling and volunteers. Over 700 will be needed. These volunteers will be called upon to begin preparations from the Tuesday before the competition for different tasks which include giving out medals, bag packers, manning food and drink stations along the bike route and run courses, to junction coverage and everything in between. Clubs and organisations are asked to please get members involved. There may be a nominal donation from Ironman to your club for its help.
Public Information Evenings will be scheduled in other towns in East Cork in the coming weeks. There is also the general Ironman Youghal Facebook page as well as the IM Cork Local Info page which has all the most up to date information for the public. Excitement is definitely building as preparations get well underway. 16 weeks and counting until East Cork is on the world stage.