Ironman competition brings thousands to Sonoma County, helping businesses

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Much of the North Bay is on the comeback trail, months after one of the largest wildfire disasters in California history. This weekend, Sonoma County played host to the Ironman triathlon and the event attracted thousands of athletes and spectators to the region.

The sound of cowbells could be heard at the finish line of the 100 mile bike race, the second stage of the epic triathlon. First stage was a two mile swim in Lake Sonoma, final stage is a 26 mile marathon run.

"It's wonderful for Santa Rosa," said 2 Tread Brewing Company owner Tracy Heydorn.

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Heydorn was thrilled to see her establishment full of hungry, thirsty patrons this weekend. The months since the wildfires fire have been challenging at times.

"it was frightening and very quiet for months, it's been a struggle but with events like this coming to town we know we'll survive," Heydorn added.

Two thousand athletes and countless spectators have converged on Sonoma County. Officials estimate the Ironman event could generate $13 million for the region.

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"I have to say spending money post-fires is just as important as when the first donations started coming in during the fires," said Santa Rosa economic development manager, Raissa De La Rosa.

Ironman men's winner was Derk De Korver of the Netherlands. Finishing time: 8 hours, 42 minutes, 37 seconds.

Top women's finisher was Amy Ferrell from Topher Lake, NY. Finishing time: 9 hours, 52 minutes, 2 seconds.

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