Len Iglar describes it as an addiction, or being similar to a cult.

Len Iglar describes it as an addiction, or being similar to a cult.

For those like Sean Costello, it fits in with his mindset that if something is worth doing, "it's worth doing it to excess."

Costello and Iglar are among the more than 2,500 athletes who will help spread a craze that has grown steadily over the past decade when they compete in the Ironman 70.3 Ohio on Sunday, Aug. 21, in Delaware.

The Ironman 70.3 Ohio consists of a 1.2-mile swim in Delaware Lake followed by a 56-mile bike ride through Delaware, Morrow and Marion counties and finally a 13.1-mile run that begins and concludes at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The event is considered a "half ironman" because it is exactly half the distance of an ironman competition.

Cost for participants ranged from $225-275 and sold out shortly after registration opened Oct. 27 of last year.

"Half ironmans don't typically sell out, but this one sold out in two weeks because it's exciting for Ohio to have it," Costello said. "Delaware's great. There are a lot of us who cycle out there. It's a good community with a lot of local races. The community is very welcoming of these events, and it's not like that every place you go."

According to the event's website, ironman.com, Delaware "offers athletes looking for a low-key ironman 70.3 the perfect mix of urban amenities and rural Midwestern charm."

The Ironman 70.3 Ohio marks the 30th in the United States and the first to come to this state.

The youngest age group competition will be for those 18-24, followed by a 25-29 category and then for every five years through age 69. The oldest age category will be for those 70 and older, and Luise Easton, a 78-year-old from Ohio, is expected to be the oldest competitor.

"Columbus has a large triathlon community," race director Ken Hammond said. "There were a few different cities that were considered, and Delaware ended up being able to support us the best and was able to meet all the needs."

Hammond expects more than 2,000 volunteers for the event, for which setting up began Aug. 17.

Typically, according to Hammond, having an Ironman 70.3 will yield $2.5 million-$4 million for the community holding the event.

Competitor check-in will be available from noon-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.

On race day, an informational booth will open at 4:30 a.m. and the competition will begin at 7 a.m. at Delaware State Park beach.

The swimming course is a triangular shape, and athletes will swim in a counter-clockwise direction with left-hand turns. There will be a wave start, with each wave entering the water at four-minute intervals.

The bike race will take competitors northbound on U.S. 23 through Marion and Morrow counties, south on Delaware-Cardington Road and back into Delaware. The bike course will have less than 700 feet of elevation change, making it a fast course compared to many 70.3 races.

Once competitors reach OWU's Selby Stadium, they'll run down South Henry Street in Delaware, turn right onto Olentangy Avenue and make two loops between Kingsbury Road, Berlin Station Road, Braumiller Road and Pollock Road before racing back toward the starting point of the run to the finish line.

While more than half of the participants live in Ohio, the 43-year-old Iglar will be coming from Marietta, Georgia, with his eye on a top-15 finish in one of the most popular age groups, 40-44.

He'll be competing in an Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky, on Oct. 9 as well.

"All things considered, I should do well in Ohio, but it's competition and you could get a flat tire or have stomach problems that day," Iglar said. "A lot of the really good age groupers are going to be in the (4-hour, 19-minute) range. I want to break into something like 4:39 or faster. It seems like 40-49 is very competitive and that there are 50 that are superstars in my age.

"I'm going to drive up, and my wife and kids will fly in on Friday (Aug. 19). The biggest thing is that family support is such a key. There will be a lot of first-timers in Ohio racing, but once you do one, you're hooked."

Costello experienced one of the pitfalls of preparing for a triathlon last summer when he was biking at about 22 mph and had a dog run out in front of him in Green Camp, Ohio.

The Galena resident ended up with a collapsed lung and fractured scapula and wasn't able to compete in Ironman Louisville last October.

Costello, who weighed about 290 pounds five years ago but now weighs about 180, will be competing in his seventh Ironman 70.3.

"You train about 12 to 15 hours a week for a half ironman, and the challenge of the full is that you're training upwards of 20 hours a week," Costello said. "You can't fake it. Either you conditioned to do it or you're not going to finish. The other thing is that you have to learn how to deal with adversity. You might get a flat tire or maybe that day you didn't get enough fluid. We're all pretty lucky to do this because a lot of people can't do it."

An awards ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Aug. 21 with top finishers in each age group automatically qualifying for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship that will be held Sept. 9 and 10, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

This year's Ironman 70.3 World Championship will be held Sept. 4 in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia.

The World Triathlon Corp. began holding Ironman World Championship triathlons in 1978 for men and in 1979 for women. It began holding Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2006 for both men and women.

One central Ohio resident excited to compete in the Ironman 70.3 Ohio is Macy Weber, a Capital graduate from East Liverpool.

Weber will compete with the U.S. team in the ITU Sprint distance triathlon World Championships on Sept. 18 in Cozumel, Mexico. The event features a half-mile swim, a 12.4-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.

The first triathlon she competed in was an Ironman 70.3 in 2013.

On June 19, Weber finished sixth (5:36.41) in the female 25-29-year-old age group in Ironman 70.3 Syracuse.

"You definitely have to love it," said Weber, who also competed in last year's Ironman Louisville and trains 12-14 hours per week. "I've definitely gotten hooked on (70.3 races), but I like sprints and Olympic distance (0.93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike ride, 6.2-mile run), too.

"In Ohio, you have a Cincinnati club, a Dayton club, a Toledo club, Cleveland, and there's definitely a lot of competition. I know there are some good (women) in my age group. My goal is to place on the podium. It's a qualifier for the World Championship 70.3 in Chattanooga next year, so that's definitely a goal."

The Ironman 70.3 Ohio will complete what has been an eventful summer for Lewis Center resident Michael Browning.

An assistant principal at London High School, Browning married Lauren Fisk, an Olentangy teacher, on July 23.

He's competed in three Olympic triathlons this year but will be doing his first Ironman 70.3 in Delaware.

"I used to play baseball when I was young, but as a former catcher, I was not fast at all," Browning said. "I kind of got bored, and doing triathlons seemed like a far-reaching goal. Being able to train is very time consuming.

"My original goal was to do it in six hours, but then I changed it to seven hours when I realized how grueling it's going to be. The closer I get to it, it's more about survival. It's a big undertaking. Having it be in Delaware is really exciting. It's a neat thing for a small town."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek