Athletes from across the globe have gathered in the State’s South West this morning, as the GWN Ironman Western Australia gets underway in Busselton. The annual event sees competitors from across the world take on both 70.3 and full ironman events. The 70.3 event kicked off at 5.30 on Sunday morning, with athletes taking on a a 1.9km swim around Busselton Jetty, before riding 90km through Tuart Forest and finally combatting a 21km half-marathon along the picturesque Busselton Foreshore. Ironman athletes will face double the distance, with a 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42 km marathon to finish - they will have 17 hours to complete the course, with professional racers diving into the water at 6.45am. As athletes exit the water to head into the cycling leg, leading the way for the men is Max Neumann who completed the first leg in 48:13. He comes to Busselton fresh off a fourth-place effort at the VinFast Ironman World Championship, and was closely followed out of the water by Steve McKenna and Patrik Nilsson. For the woman, Dutch professional Lotte Wilms leads the pack with a swim time of 51:48, an impressive two minutes ahead of second-place swimmer Radka Kahlefeldt. Ironman WA reigning champions Matt Burton and Kylie Simpson have both returned for the event, looking to go back-to-back for first-place wins. As of the completion of the swim leg, neither were in the top 10 of racers. Last year they each completed the course with times of 08:01:33 and 09:16:14 respectively. Five-hundred-and-four keen first-timers will also be taking on the Ironman race this year, with the professional winners expected to cross the finish line between 2.30-3.30pm. The event is open to athletes aged 18 and above, with Japan’s Koji Nobuka as the oldest male to take on the race at 79-year-old, while 70-year-old Pamela Williams has returned for her 12th Ironman WA as the oldest female competitor.