Cafes, pubs and restaurants in Stafford are hoping it will be a bumper weekend for business with the return of the Ironman race to the county town.
Some hospitality outlets reported trade has trebled on the day of Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire in previous years. And a number of outlets - such as Coffee #1, Slaters, Verso Lounge and The Swan Hotel say they are hoping a combination of good weather, spectators and record number of competitors will see their sales rocket.
Around 3,000 people are expected to start the race on Sunday (12 June) which culminates with a half marathon, finishing in the town’s Market Square, following a 1.2 mile swim at Chasewater and 56-mile bike ride through the Staffordshire countryside.
And thousands of spectators are expected to turn out along the route - including crowds cheering competitors home in a packed Stafford town centre.
The event is a collaboration between Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire, Stafford Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council.
Emma Follows, Assistant Manager of Coffee #1 in Greengate Street, said: “We are really looking forward to the weekend as the Ironman event creates a lovely buzz around the town and we expect to be very busy.
“Previously, Ironman has seen us have one of the busiest Sundays of the year, and we will we be hoping to make the most of it this weekend.”
Slater’s Bar Manager, Ruby Bailey, said the pub would be opening early for teas and coffees on the Sunday to take advantage of the increased footfall in town.
Members of Stafford Triathlon Club use the Gaolgate Street bar and Ruby added: “Ironman is really good for business and good for the town. There is a great atmosphere and we expect the bar to be packed on Sunday as it has been in previous years.”
Rooms at The Swan Hotel in the centre of town are fully booked for the Ironman weekend and one of the duty managers, Callum Ondrak-Jones, said: “We are looking forward to it. Competitors like to stay here because it is so central to the town. It will be very busy and the atmosphere is really good.”
And Kelly Quigley, General Manager at Verso Lounge Café Bar, said their venue was very popular with competitors because of the range of vegan and gluten free dishes they had on the menu.
She continued: “It makes the weekend much busier than usual and we always prepare well - with more staff on and more stock in. And there is a great atmosphere as well.”
And it is not only the hospitality businesses that are set to profit from the event, with stores such as Superdrug saying they are ‘definitely busier’ because of the Ironman.
This year’s event marks the first full capacity race since 2019, following disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic which led to event cancellation in 2020 and a smaller athlete field in 2021. Athletes from 55 countries have registered to take part on Sunday including France, United States, Poland, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Councillor Frances Beatty, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning, said: “Major events such as this can be a tremendous boost to the local economy and it is great to hear many of our retailers, eating and drinking venues, and other businesses will be able to take advantage of the thousands of people who will be coming to our town.
“We also have the chance to promote the borough, and wider county, to the global audience that the Ironman brand brings - and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with them.”
The final leg of the triathlon will see participants run past the iconic Stafford Castle before finishing under the Ironman 70.3 finish gantry in Stafford’s Market Square.
She added: “Ironman is one of the most popular events in the Staffordshire sporting calendar and I hope to see lots of residents and visitors turning out to celebrate its return to the county.”
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said: “IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire is a fantastic event and brings a boost to the local economy. It enables us to showcase the county to visitors from across the UK and the world.
“With our natural assets, excellent visitor attractions and places to stay, we provide a memorable experience to those visiting the county and our own residents.
“The hospitality sector has been hit incredibly hard over the last couple of years and so events like this can make a difference in helping businesses get back on their feet.
“We’re delighted to then to see IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire return to the county this year and hope people enjoy the event and all our superb cafes, shops and restaurants.”
Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire marks the first Ironman race of the season in the UK, kicking off what is sure to be an outstanding summer of triathlon across England and Wales.
Press Release No 5909