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FROMT THE DMO DESK: Ironman speculation

August 6, 2011
I heard that we might lose the Ironman Lake Placid event. I heard that now that they’ve got new events in nearby New York City and in Mont Tremblant, World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), which owns Ironman, doesn’t need Lake Placid.  

Plus, I heard that Ironman has changed its format and no longer allows the swim to be held in natural water sources. In fact, I heard that in order to maintain our contract with World Triathlon Corporation, we have to construct a half-mile long chlorinated pool within the township of North Elba at a cost of a trillion dollars in order to keep the event in the region.

From whom have I heard these things? I made up that last pool construction suggestion myself, but I have heard the other rumors in quick, whispered exchanges from a few random individuals throughout the community over the last week. And my coworkers and friends have reported hearing similar speculation.  So are the rumors true?  Does Ironman plan to leave Lake Placid?

The answer is no.

As soon as we received notice that WTC had added events in Mont Tremblant and New York City, our office began to receive calls questioning the longevity of Lake Placid’s event with this new competition. And that’s the wrong way to look at it.

As the second oldest Ironman in North America and one of the most popular events in the sport, the Lake Placid race has played a tremendous role in the growth of the full distance Ironman. The location and terrain here appeal to athletes — and aside from minor adjustments, the course has remained the same for 13 years, which is very unusual. 

I urge you to ignore the rumors; and consider the facts:

¯There were 1,400 athletes for the first two years of Ironman Lake Placid. 

¯2,498 athletes entered the water for the swim start for the 2011 race.  (94.9 percent finished)

¯Athletes from all 50 states and 45 nations participated in the 2011 race.

¯This year, Ironman Lake Placid had 3,967 volunteers, and over 2,000 of them were overnight visitors.  

¯1,000 of those volunteers were here in order to guarantee entry in next year’s Ironman Lake Placid.

¯General registration for the Ironman Lake Placid 2012 race was full, as usual, on the day after the 2011 event.

Full distance Ironman competition is expanding all over the world - the sport has increased tremendously in popularity. This means that a LOT more people are interested in competing and the market for these races is still growing.

So there are plenty of race entrants to go around. The New York City race will draw from the millions that live in the metro area as well as international competitors, and there is pent-up demand for full distance Ironman races in Canada — the Mont Tremblant race will meet the needs of the growing market there.

At this year’s Lake Placid event, the new volunteer director for the New York City race shadowed our experienced volunteer director to get a feel for the job.  The new race director for the Mont Tremblant Ironman was here to shadow the Lake Placid race director, as well.  We share a goal for continued success, and we all have a stake in the Ironman brand.  

For over 13 years, Lake Placid has made an ongoing commitment to this race.  

Here are some more facts: 

There are four host agreements with WTC for the race. There is a host agreement between WTC and the Town of North Elba for use of the North Elba Show Grounds, between WTC and the Lake Placid High School for use of the school, between WTC and the Village of Lake Placid for certain services, and for which WTC pays when costs rise above a certain level.  

The lead, marketing agreement is with us, the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (LPCVB). We have an events department that provides a volunteer director to manage the almost 4,000 volunteers that support the event, as well as various ancillary projects. In addition, our organization budgets on an annual basis monies to support events that drive significant overnight visitation. In return, WTC stages the single most important economic event in the community that brings in a minimum of 2,500 participants, a live web presentation viewed by millions, and provides incalculable amount of exposure for the destination, including television coverage in most years. Over the last 13 years, Ironman has also contributed well over one million dollars to local and regional nonprofit organizations. And in the last economic impact study conducted in 2009, we can attribute 9.9 million dollars in direct spending to the event.

  We’re fortunate to benefit from the continued success of annual warm-weather sports events such as Ironman, Lacrosse, the Marathon, Rugby and the Horse Shows, as they are also consistent with the region’s infrastructure and healthy lifestyle.  

It’s no rumor that negotiations are currently under way to extend the 2012 contracts with WTC. Obviously, it is in the best interest of both the destination and WTC to continue our very successful relationship.  There may be some concessions made, but I’m pretty sure there will be no demands to significantly increase our monetary commitment, and despite the rumor I started, I’m confident that they will continue to host the swim portion in pristine Mirror Lake.   

Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the

Lake Placid CVB.

She can be reached at



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