Muncie Continues to Host Successful Triathlon Competitions After More Than 40 Years
Writer / Melissa Stalb
Photographer / Amy Payne
Since 1980, the Muncie Endurathon, a 70.3-mile race, has brought thousands to the city to compete, and is the longest consecutive triathlon in the state of Indiana.
In 2011, the IRONMAN organization bought the naming rights to the triathlon, furthering the legacy created in Muncie by promoting healthy living, perseverance and accomplishment.
The IRONMAN 70.3 is a famous triathlon in which athletes complete a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike race, and then a 13.1-mile run before the end of the day. Participants also have the option to compete in the IRONMAN 140.6, twice the distance for each event, which must be completed in 17 hours.
Just last month, three of Muncie’s community leaders participated as an IRONMAN relay team including Prairie Creek Reservoir Supervisor Dustin Clark, City Controller Craig Wright and Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour. They completed the event in seven hours and nine minutes.
Ridenour, who enjoyed the experience, has been running for years, and participated in 17 full marathons and 24 half marathons prior to joining the 2022 relay.
“It was wonderful,” Ridenour says. “When you have a common goal, challenges are easier to overcome. We’re thrilled that IRONMAN is here. We’ve signed a multiyear contract with them. We want to make sure this continues, and encourage good health and exercise in the community.”
Communications Director Michele Owen had completed the IRONMAN 140.6 in Maryland just two weeks prior.
“It’s quite an achievement,” Owen says. “I have never been an athlete and never played sports. I really went from zero to 70. I had just started running and then a friend encouraged me to participate in a bike race. From there I thought, ‘You might as well learn how to swim,’ and really enjoyed the whole process.”
The team even has an additional staff member ready to join in 2023.
“I thought, ‘This is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,’ but it’s such an accomplishment,” Owen says. “There’s really no feeling like it.”
The challenge has brought people together, including community and staff members who volunteered at the event and cheered on their co-workers.
As for Muncie, there’s a sense of pride and excitement surrounding the entire event.
“I think so many people are familiar with IRONMAN, but when they see what it entails, that’s a whole other thing,” Owen says. “It’s part of our town’s history and gives so many people a real sense of pride. You can feel the excitement in the city.”
It’s also a large economic boost for the city. During the 2022 IRONMAN event, nearly 1,000 people participated, and more than 5,000 visited the city to support their loved ones.
An estimated $4 million in revenue was gained in hotels, restaurants and additional activities throughout the weekend.
“The economic impact is substantial,” Ridenour says. “We appreciate the event and all the people who come out for it. Muncie hosts other triathlons as well and it gives the community a sense of camaraderie.”
Muncie will host the IRONMAN competition next year on September 30. For more information, visit cityofmuncie.com.