Retailers in Stafford are gearing up to take advantage of a super Sunday with thousands of extra visitors coming to the town for Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire which returns to the heart of the county town on Sunday with around 2,400 competitors expected to take part. The race involves a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile cycle ride and finishing with a 13.1 mile run.
Last year was the first time the run section of the competition had come to the centre of Stafford with several retailers reporting it as one of their busiest trading days of the year. Around 20,000 people were recorded in the town – more than double an average Sunday footfall.
Coffee #1 on Greengate Street was twice as busy on the Sunday with Pizza Express on the Market Square reporting a similar increase on the day – and said the Saturday had also been much busier than normal. Jodie Meek, manager of Coffee #1, said they were ready for the popular event: “We are looking forward to a really positive weekend. This event brings the whole community together and creates a great atmosphere in town. As a business we are all geared up for the increase in numbers the Ironman will bring to the town.”
The swim at Chasewater Country Park kicks off the event, with the bike leg going through the Staffordshire countryside and into town for a half marathon – which incorporates a run around the historic Stafford Castle.
The event is a collaboration between Ironman, Stafford Borough Council and the County Council. Councillor Frances Beatty said: “It is great to hear shops and businesses are getting ready to take advantage of the huge numbers of people that are expected in our town. “We are always looking at ways to promote our town centre and the number of excellent events we have going on through the year is one of those ways we can attract more people.”
Mary Walker, Chair of the Stafford town Centre Partnership, said: “This is a prestigious event with only four being held in the UK and we are lucky to have it here again. 20,000 visitors were in town last year on the Sunday and many shops sold out of food and drink, sun cream, sun hats and more.”
The run course takes athletes from Riverway alongside the River Sow, into the Stafford town centre, and towards Stafford Castle where they will do two and a half loops of the historic monument before heading back.