SLIDESHOW: Louisville Ironman winner finishes race in under nine - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SLIDESHOW: Louisville Ironman winner finishes race in under nine hours

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Hundreds of Ironman athletes filled the streets of Louisville on Sunday for the triathlon that spans more than 140 miles. 

James Burke of Wisconsin finished the race first in under nine hours. 

"You suffer for about 25 miles, and then the last mile on the run is pretty special," Burke said about the final leg of the race. 

Christine Nichols of Hawaii came out on top for the women. 

"It was everything I had, and I think it was everything everyone else had too," Nichols said.

The triathlon started before the sun came up along the Ohio River. 

Officials say just under 2,600 people got into the water for a 2.4-mile swim. 

But that first leg of the race almost didn't happen because of a potentially-dangerous algae bloom. 

Swimmers didn't get the all clear until Friday. 

After getting out of the water, athletes jumped on their bikes. Supporters were already posted along the roads. 

"It really helps, just knowing that you have some people there that are cheering for you," said Camden Miller of Louisville, who was in the race last year. "It gives you something to look forward to, and it keeps you moving." 

Strangers, family members and friends cheered the athletes on and paid tribute to their hard work. 

"It's anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week of training and lots of early mornings and late nights," said Christine Taylor, whose husband was taking part in the race. 

The bike ride is 112 miles, and the last leg of the race is a full marathon. 

Medics stand by for those who may need help. The full course spans just over 140 miles. People from across the country and the world come to Louisville to take it on. 

Officials say Louisville will play host to the Ironman for at least another four years. 

"We love this place," Nichols said. "We're gonna keep coming back." 

Sunday's top finishers qualified for next year's Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii. 

The course closes at midnight. For a full list of street closures for the rest of Sunday night, click here.

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