Thousands of athletes and their supporters will be packing into Pembrokeshire in just three weeks’ time as another sell-out Ironman Wales takes place.

This year’s contest is being held on its earliest-ever date – Sunday September 3 – which led to concern from businesses in Tenby and surrounding area over the pressure it would put on infrastructure on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Nearly 100 businesspeople signed a petition calling for the event to be scrapped.

Ironman said it took the concerns 'very seriously', and although holding firm on this year's date, the later date of September 22 has been fixed for the 2024 event.

The global organisation said it is also working closely with local businesses to promote the local products and services through their channels such as emails to athletes, and the supporter guide hosted on the Ironman Wales website 

Western Telegraph: The vast shoal of swimmers heads for the water to start Ironman Wales.The vast shoal of swimmers heads for the water to start Ironman Wales. (Image: Gareth Davies Photography)

Around 3,000 athletes have signed up for the 2023 event, with 93 per cent coming from the UK and the remainder from al over the world including Germany, Switzerland and France.

It wouldn’t be a Welsh race without some ex-rugby pros in attendance.

Along with race regular Shane Williams, this year, Alix Popham is taking on the challenge in aid of his charity Head for Change, which pioneers positive change for brain health in sport and supports ex-rugby and football players who are affected by neurodegenerative disease as a result of their professional sporting career.

The start of Ironman Wales on Sunday September 3 has become an iconic scene as athletes line up on the North Beach at sunrise and the Welsh National Anthem is sung.

Western Telegraph: Encouragement from the enthusiastic crowds as cyclists tackle the climb out of Saundersfoot.Encouragement from the enthusiastic crowds as cyclists tackle the climb out of Saundersfoot. (Image: Gareth Davies Photography)

Ironman Wales race director, Rebecca Sutherland, said: “We can’t wait to welcome back thousands of athletes to Face the Dragon on Sunday 3 September.

"The support of the locals in the Pembrokeshire area is unparalleled and creates a very special atmosphere on race day. The feeling you get from the national anthem at the swim start is something that every triathlete needs to experience once in their lifetime.”

Once completing the 2.4 mile swim course, they start the long run up the North Besch zig zag and through town to the bike transition in the South Beach car park.

Western Telegraph: It's a magic moment as the winner comes home.It's a magic moment as the winner comes home.

The cycle course is a 112-mile route taking in the coast and countryside of south Pembrokeshire, ahead of the marathon which is run on a four-loop course in and around Tenby.

Thousands of spectators line the streets to cheer the athletes on to the finish line underneath the famous Ironman Wales arch on the Esplanade.

Tenby’s mayor, Cllr Dai Morgan – himself a former Ironman - will be on hand at the finish line to congratulate finishers and giving out their medals as they complete their gruelling challenge. The mayor will also be speaking at the awards ceremony on the Monday morning.

Western Telegraph: 'Heartbreak Hill' in Saundersfoot is one of the challenges of the bike course.'Heartbreak Hill' in Saundersfoot is one of the challenges of the bike course. (Image: Gareth Davies Photography)

As well as the triathlon on the Sunday, the Saturday also plays host to Ironkids Wales, where over 2,000 youngsters will take to the streets to experience the feeling of running down the red carpet finish line.

Kids aged from four to 15 will take on either a 500m, 1km or 1.5km run through Tenby, culminating under the Ironman finishing arch. Many of the children are from local schools and have been part of a campaign to write good luck postcards for the athletes taking on Ironman Wales. These will be given to athletes on registration.

Cllr Rhys Sinnett, Pembrokeshire County Council cabinet member for residents' services said: "I'm proud to welcome Ironman  athletes, their families and friends to Pembrokeshire.

"With our stunning coastline, charming seaside resorts, wonderful countryside trails and fascinating heritage, we’re sure your visit to Pembrokeshire will be a memorable one.

Western Telegraph: Let's hope for blue skies this year!Let's hope for blue skies this year! (Image: Gareth Davies Photography)

"Ironman is hugely popular here amongst both contestants and spectators, and we are very proud that our county provides such a spectacular and challenging backdrop to the event, as well as some of the most enthusiastic Ironman supporters in the world.”