There is a real threat that Lake Placid may lose the Ironman Triathlon in a few years, and the entire community should begin actively pursuing a strategy to keep the economy-boosting event in the Olympic Village, which has hosted the race since 1998.
Last year, Ironman North America was sold to World Triathlon Corporation and the contract to hold the triathlon in Lake Placid expires this year. Officials say a deal is in the works to keep the event in Lake Placid until 2012, but nothing has been finalized yet. Cities in Vermont and Colorado have already expressed interest in hosting the event — and wish to pay for the privilege.
Regardless of one’s opinion of Ironman or those who train in the region, it would be a real economic loss if the event was no longer held in Lake Placid. As a community, steps must be taken to keep the bragging rights of hosting a world-class race.
In a guest commentary in last week’s Lake Placid News, the co-owners of the bike shop Placid Planet said they are posting signs in the store informing cyclists about the “rules of the road.” It was a step in the right direction to begin an educational campaign focusing on what many locals consider to be a downside of Ironman.
No one who is driving likes to come up to a group of bicyclists riding two, three or four across and blocking the flow of traffic. No bicyclist likes having a car or truck zip by just inches from knocking them onto the ground. The issue of sharing the road is one that must be addressed — and doing so may alleviate much of the negative opinions of those who are training for Ironman or simply enjoying the sport.
One potential remedy would be to construct a well-marked and defined bike lane throughout the area for bicyclists to train. Sure, it will come at a high cost, but it would be even more costly to lose an event of Ironman’s magnitude.
Perhaps those who would lose the most in visitor revenue could step up and organize a grassroots effort to help fund a bike lane, which could possibly lead to grant money. Even the state may find money in its tight budget, because if Ironman moves to another state, New York will also lose a major event.
Ironman’s move out of Lake Placid isn’t definite, but the possibility is there and must be nipped in the bud. Let’s not wait until the last minute.
A local effort is currently under way to discuss improving the public perception of Ironman, and the ball should keep rolling to ensure the words Ironman and Lake Placid remain synonymous.
Anything that brings attention to Lake Placid is good — most of the time — but losing the Ironman Triathlon would be tragic news.