THE countdown is on to the endurance spectacle of Ironman Wales, which is back in Pembrokeshire for the ninth time on Sunday September 15.

Alongside the strong professional field, over 2,000 individual athletes from more than 35 different countries are expected to line up for the sell-out contest, with a strong local contingent amongst them.

Ironman Wales has won worldwide acclaim for its challenging courses, spectacular scenery and the unique atmosphere created by its enthusiastic and supportive spectators.

From the early morning swim start on Tenby’s North Beach; around the bike course taking in the south Pembrokeshire countryside and coastline to the marathon’s red carpet finishing line on the town’s Esplanade, crowds turn out in force to cheer on the athletes.

Looking to be the first female professional athlete to complete the course is crowd favourite Lucy Gossage, who has come out of retirement to defend the Ironman Wales title she claimed in 2018 and 2017.

Great Britain’s Lucy will be competing against a powerful start list and said she is motivated by her ‘pure love for racing and the sport’.

She added: “Crossing the finish line of my first Ironman is still one of my biggest achievements. I never really believed I’d be able to do it, and for me, that feeling of achieving the impossible is hard to beat.”

Tough competition for the female lead is expected to be put up by British racer Laura Siddall, making her Ironman Wales debut with her recent 2019 Ironman Australia under her belt.

On the professional male’s side, competition for top of the podium runs deep.

Great Britain’s Philip Graves will be aiming for a first-place finish after being pipped to second place in last year’s Ironman Wales. At age 20, he became the youngest triathlete to win an Ironman competition and is expected to be one of the first to exit the swim.

The curtain-raiser to Ironman Wales is the Ironkids event which takes place in Tenby the day before – Saturday September 14.

Around 2,000 youngsters, aged between three and 14, will be taking part in age category fun runs.

For more information about Ironman Wales, click here

To find out about road closures which will be in operation on race day, click here

Pembrokeshire County Council also has event and access information here

The A40 and A477 are unaffected by the event and give east-west access.

Tenby is accessible throughout the day. Between 8.30am and 5pm, this is via the A478 southbound through Pentlepoir, with Devonshire Drive operating as a controlled one-way system.

There will again be a Park & Ride scheme operating from Carew Airfield into Tenby and via Saundersfoot, to allow spectators to view the event from 4.30am until midnight. The service to Saundersfoot is only while the bike course is live there.