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IRONMAN 70.3 check in begins

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The IRONMAN Expo is underway in Chattanooga, and it’s an international event. The IRONMAN 70.3 includes 3,000 athletes from 29 different countries, 65 vendors, and a lot of fun.

“This is probably one of my favorite venues,” Charles Elder said.

Elder registered for his fourth IRONMAN on Friday.

But there are plenty of participants, like Mike Mann, who will suit up for the first time.

He's says he's impressed by what he's seen so far.

“You can't get a better group of folks together as athletes, and providers that come down here, it's a great atmosphere,” Mann said.

This is also Mann’s first trip to the Scenic City.

“It's amazing. Amazing atmosphere. Good times. Good weather. A lot better than Michigan right now,” Mann said.

John Antretter owns Bikes and Life. He’s lost more than 70 pounds, thanks in part to training for and competing in six IRONMAN events.

He's not competing this weekend.

But he'll still have plenty to do.

“When people fly in, say from Venezuela, to come here to do the race, and they get off the plane and they open up the bike box and the bike has broken apart, we're the guys that put it back together,” Antretter said.

He says he'll repair more than 400 bikes before the weekend is over.

And he still plans to be at the finish line.

“When you watch folks who have gone through a life-changing experience, and they've decided that, ‘hey I'm gonna come down here and race,’ it's emotional,” Antretter said.

But it's not only about the race for some people.

Mary Beth Shirzadi with Sugar Shakers will be helping feed the competitors.

And she's already open for business.

“That's why we're here two days before the race. They're hungry, they're working out, they're practicing,” Shirzadi said.

Swimming, biking and running aside, some say there are still things you can't control...like rain.

“I think this year the toughest part may be the weather,” Elder said.

The IRONKIDS race is Saturday with the big competition starting Sunday at 7 am.

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