Slovenia to host its first Half Iroman next September
Koper, 8 December - Slovenia will be hosting the prestigious Ironman Triathlon next year for the first time as the coastal towns of Koper, Ankaran, Izola and Portorož will be the venue next September of a Half Ironman, which is also seen as a good opportunity to promote Slovenia as a tourist destination and establish business ties.
The long-distance triathlon race, taking place on 23 September and organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), will consist of a 1.9 km swim, a 90 km bike ride and a 21.1 km run.
Race manager Milan Eržen told the press in Koper on Friday that the idea was born when he met the organisers in Bahrain in 2014. "I realised that this is the right event for Slovenia, also to present it as a tourist destination."
Eržen, one of the main founders of the Bahrain-Merida professional cycling team, which will feature seven Slovenians in the next season, said that the event was practically prepared, apart from "mere technicalities".
The Slovenian organisers have obtained a three-year licence for the event, whose first edition will feature only recreational athletes in several age groups.
A total of 2,000 spots are available, which the organisers believe will be sold out after the registration opens on 18 December. The event is expected to generate up to 20,000 additional overnight stays on the Slovenian coast.
The "Ironman I Feel Slovenia 70.3 Slovenia Istria" will start in Koper with the swimming leg, followed by the cycling to Ankaran and across the border into Italy and back. The running leg will take place on the coastal road between Koper and Izola.
The event is also seen as a good opportunity to promote Slovenia as a tourist destination and establish business ties with executives from the Persian Gulf countries.
Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) director Maja Pak said that the Half Ironman was an "opportunity to present Slovenia as a green destination, as an excellent host, as a destination with rich heritage and cuisine".
As it is a part of a trio of such events which also take place in Bahrain and Dubai, the STO will take the advantage of the event to present Slovenia on these markets.
Dušan Olaj, the president of the organising committee and a triathlon enthusiast himself, added that the goal was to get connected with the Gulf countries and organise a conference for executives from the region on the sidelines of the event.