Athletes competing in Ironman 70.3 do a quick change from their wetsuits into the cycling clothes to start a 56-mile course through hills south of Salem on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

At 6:15 a.m. Sunday, the first of more than 2,000 competitive athletes slipped into the Willamette River.

That entry, at Minto-Brown Island Park, was the start of Ironman 70.3. In the coming hours, the athletes would swim down river 1.2 miles to Riverfront Park, switch to bicycles and ride south out of Salem to Ankeny Hill and back to cover 56 miles. They finished the competition with a 13.1-mile run from Riverfront Park out to Minto Brown Island and back.

The event – sometimes referred to as a half ironman – takes an average of six hours to complete.

That means they started while you had breakfast and were on the go constantly, finishing up roughly as you thought about lunch.

The world record, by the way, is 3:25:21.

On Sunday, the temperature was 62 when the competition started and 82 by noon.

This is the first time the Ironman 70.3 has been held in Oregon. Top finishers qualified to compete in the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championship to be held in St. George, Utah.

Participants in the Ironman event race past spectators in Riverfront Park during the 13.1-mile to Minto Brown Island and back on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Hundreds of swimmers race down the Willamette River towards Riverfront Park in the first stage of the Ironman competition in Salem on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Early morning sunlight casts long shadows of riders and their bicycles as competitors in the Ironman event in Salem leave Riverfront Park for a 56-mile ride on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Salem’s Riverfront Park is packed with hundreds of racing bikes stacked in neat rows waiting for competitors to finish the swimming stage of the Ironman competition held on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Spectators line the banks as participants in the swimming stage of Ironman 70.3 in Salem reach the takeout point at Riverfront Park. Competitors quickly removed wetsuits and switched to their bicycles for the next stage of the event held on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Spectators line the banks to watch the 1.2-mile swimming stage of Ironman 70.3 in Salem on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

A smiling competitor in Ironman 70.3 heads for Salem streets for the bicycling stage after swimming 1.2 miles in the Willamette River on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

A competitor in the Salem Ironman event eats an energy snack while heading for Salem streets for the bicycling event on Sunday, July 25. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

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