For the first time, Des Moines is hosting a half-Ironman triathlon event.

Elite athletes from all over the world are now in town for the Ironman 70.3 on Sunday.

"It's tough, there's always moments you wonder why I'm doing this," said Curtis Criswell.

Criswell drove 900 miles to push himself through the 70.3 mile mental and physical challenge in Des Moines.

"My drug of choice has always been more, the Ironman offers that, a lot of fun, a good hobby and great way to kill a Sunday," Criswell said.

They start early Sunday diving into Gray's Lake for a 1.2-mile swim, then bicycle 56 miles to Booneville and back with energy left to run a half marathon, 13.1 miles through the city. They will finish at Court Avenue.

"Every athlete, no matter how fast or smooth they are, is struggling inside," said Matt Anderson, deputy city manager. "When things really hurt and it's hot and you want to check out mentally or physically in your head you got to ask why am I here? What brought me to the start line in the first place? And why did I want to get to the finish line so it's a big mental challenge," Anderson said.

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