Many of the key players behind the scenes of an IRONMAN event, in particular an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, are somewhat familiar faces in the community. They serve Greater Zion as part of the police department or hospital or local park staffs on a daily basis, but they step up when IRONMAN comes to town. Each of them find inspiration in the jobs they do, the stellar IRONMAN athletes and their performance, as well as our gorgeous surroundings. And we marvel as these Legends Among Us … both daily and in producing these worldwide events.
As IRONMAN’s top athletes from around the globe prepare to compete in the Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission, Oct. 28 and 29, the community also is readying itself for the sport’s ultimate competition. More than 4,000 volunteers make this event a success and for years, there have been legends among us who have played an integral role in making IRONMAN races happen by donating their time and expertise.
Dr. Christian Millward is the medical crew team lead for the October race and has been volunteering for IRONMAN in St. George since 2010. “I love dealing with active people,” said Dr. Millward. “We live in such an active community. People want to feel better quickly and get out there to start moving again. IRONMAN athletes are just the same with that spirit to get out, address their aliment and get moving again.”
Dr. Millward is a sports medicine physician and deals with musculoskeletal issues on a daily basis. In addition to volunteering his time as the medical crew lead for IRONMAN races, he is the head team physician for Utah Tech University Athletics. His role with IRONMAN races is truly an extension of his job, but for the competition, he has to plan for thousands of athletes all in one day. His team has to anticipate various worst-case scenarios from trauma to dehydration and cramps. He pulls together a team of more than 50 qualified medical professionals, depending on the race, to ensure athlete health needs are addressed from the medical tent to on-course happenings.
“I love the spirit of competition with athletes,” added Dr. Millward. “During a race I’ve seen someone fall off a bike, break a clavicle and still finish the race. There’s just a drive that these athletes have to accomplish things.”
A triathlete himself, Dr. Millward has also competed in several IRONMAN races. His best IRONMAN moment was competing in the 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 in St. George. “Finishing in my hometown was a great moment,” said Dr. Millward. “Having done a few triathlons, it’s tough. The work, the time and effort is a big commitment. When I’m on the medical crew, on the sidelines, it’s exciting to see other people tackle such a challenging race. Watching their enthusiasm and drive is really motivating and fun to see as a volunteer.”
There is a sense of pride volunteering for these races. He also loves the visibility this gives to the community. He noted that it’s exciting to see people discover Greater Zion, the exposure that people who’ve never been here have to the beauty of the area. Dr. Millward also mentioned how the World Championship in May brought a different level of visitor to the area and a level of complexity that was really fun to work within.
“It was super cool to see the shift in visitors and competitors last spring with the May World Championship,” added Dr. Millward. “There were things we had to take into consideration that we’ve never done before, like linguistics. The international exposure and level of competition was amazing to be a part of.”
He finds the competitors and people the most gratifying part of volunteering for the medical team. “I really enjoy being a part of a bigger team. Our medical crew plays an important role in supporting the athletes, but there are so many additional volunteers and emergency personnel who make this race happen. It’s exciting to be a part of what makes our St. George races so successful.”
In addition to racing triathlons, Dr. Millward enjoys all of what the Greater Zion region has to offer. A 14-year resident of St. George, he moved here for the area’s legendary location, the outdoor lifestyle and adventures the region has to offer. He’s an avid outdoorsman and enjoys camping, hiking, climbing, canyoneering, biking and running, among other pursuits.
Learn more about the 2022 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission and read other inspirational stories from athletes like Dr. Christian Millward over on our Greater Zion IRONMAN blog.