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Lake Placid will host 70.3-mile Ironman next September

July 22, 2016
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Starting next year, the summer events season here will get a little longer.

On Thursday, July 21, the official announcement was made that the Olympic Village will host an Ironman brand 70.3-mile race on Sept. 10, 2017, in addition to the full Ironman triathlon that spans 140.6 miles.

Jim McKenna, CEO of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, which took the lead role for the area in working out a deal with Ironman, said an agreement was put in place to hold Lake Placid's newest triathlon annually through 2021. He also said Thursday that the full distance Ironman Lake Placid, which will take place for the 18th time on Sunday, has also been signed up for another five years. That race has traditionally been held each year in Lake Placid on the fourth Sunday in July.

Article Photos

Triathletes compete in the 2015 Ironman Lake Placid race.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

"We've been working on this since the beginning of the year, and this one's still dripping with ink," McKenna said of adding the 70.3-mile triathlon. "For Lake Placid, this is as much as a marketing agreement as anything else. In reality, Ironman is one of the most recognizable names in sports worldwide. They are a marketing machine that can spread the name Lake Placid across the globe. The Ironman we've had here for years is one of the oldest, most well-known triathlons. Now we've added the 70.3, and it's pretty exciting. Ironman is on every continent in the world and we're part of the original family."

Lake Placid's full-distance Ironman triathlon features two 1.2-mile swim loops, two 56-mile bike loops and a marathon run through the village consisting of a pair of 13.1-mile loops. The 70.3 will cover the very same course but will include just one loop for each of its three legs.

A year ago, Lake Placid was in the running to host the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship that would have been held at the same time as the new 70.3 race, but ultimately lost out to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Although the world championship event stretches out over two days and traditionally draws many more competitors than other 70.3 events, McKenna said not winning it may have worked out for the best.

"Looking back, this should be a better fit for us," McKenna said. "There is a long-term benefit here. Businesses can count on this being on the books for the next five years. The race itself comes with a big economic bang, but just being associated with the Ironman sports brand might be more valuable than the races themselves. Not only does Ironman draw people here to compete in races, but it has also helped turned our region into a year-round training destination."

Local officials stated the 70.3 race will bring to the community an economic boost at a time when there is a lull in business after the summer season winds down and before the fall foliage season peaks.

"In my experience, this will provide a little shot in the arm later in September," said Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall, who operates a 12-unit motel in the village. "I am assuming that will be another three or four days of occupancy with the race people coming in. That could be a good week after Labor Day. Traditionally, that is a very flat time for our hotels and other businesses."

More than 3,000 people are signed up for Sunday's full-distance, 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon, and the number of competitors who actually start the race is expected to be around 2,500. McKenna figures the same number of triathletes will register for the half-Ironman event. He added that by the time those races begin, there will be less of a drop off with about 2,800 participants on race day.

McKenna said ROOST currently pays between $75,000 and $80,000 each year to Ironman for the privilege of hosting the full-distance race and explained that a similar arrangement has been put in place for the 70.3 event. That amount increases by $5,000 annually, but he added it's a marketing expense for ROOST that is more than worthwhile.

"It's tremendous exposure for us across the world, and we couldn't begin to do that on our own for that amount of money," McKenna said. "It's unbeatable when it comes to our ROI (return on investment)."

Although the lodging season experiences a lull the weekend after Labor Day, some events that traditionally take place in the area during those days will be likely be affected by the addition of the Ironman 70.3.

McKenna said the Lake Placid Classic Half Marathon that Saturday should experience a boost in attendance due to the triathlon.

The historic Craig Wood/Ray Randall golf tournament has been held in Lake Placid for decades and is always slated for the weekend after Labor Day. North Elba Town Supervisor Roby Politi said that event will be pushed ahead into August. It's held at the Craig Wood Golf Course, which is closed during the Ironman triathlon.

Saranac Lake's biggest annual competition that weekend, the three-day, 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic, should not be directly affected by the addition of the 70.3 Ironman.



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