Residents share views on 2022 Ironman contract

Sibyl Quayle is seen here in Lake Placid. (News photo — Quinlan Peer)

LAKE PLACID — The community is split on whether Lake Placid’s Ironman triathalon should stay or go.

After returning to Lake Placid every year since 1999, with the exception of 2020, the event’s contract was up for renewal after the July 25 race, but a decision has been made to extend the contract.

The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism announced on Friday, July 23 that Ironman would return for 2022. The one-year contract between Ironman, ROOST, the village of Lake Placid and the town of North Elba has not been signed yet, according to Mayor Art Devlin. Before the announcement, the Enterprise questioned residents about their feelings on the triathlon.

Over the past 22 years, Ironman has been an inspiration and a source of reliable income for some, but for others, it’s grown into an annoyance. One of the biggest issues, according to some people living along the route, is being trapped in their homes on race day.

“It wasn’t a huge inconvenience to my life at first as it was one day and we could still get out if need be,” said Nicole Trainor, of Lake Placid. “Now I live on a different part of the Ironman route now and cannot leave my house without significant planning of where to leave my car and walking there.”

Others who don’t live on the route, but still need the roads to travel, are affected the same way.

“Many of our roads are closed on race day with very little regard for the residents who require travel,” Lake Placid resident Trish Friedlander wrote in a letter to the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, Lake Placid Village Board and the North Elba Town Council.

In addition to road closures, other roads in Lake Placid can sometimes get packed with traffic, making travel difficult there, too.

“It’s busy, too busy,” said Adrian Ratigan.

For some, their views on Ironman have changed over the years as it grew into a bigger event.

“When Ironman came at first I was excited, my husband competed and we would host athletes. Now we just stay away and ignore it,” said Sibyl Quayle, of Lake Placid.

However, some other residents and business owners support keeping the triathlon. A lot of this support comes from the idea that Ironman brings more business to Lake Placid.

“It’s good for the economy, businesses are busier,” said Kenny Cecunjanin, whose family owns multiple restaurants in the area.

Some businesses are impacted directly, seeing more customers come in during the week leading up to the event, while others see more of an indirect impact.

“My business caters more to the locals than the tourist trade so although my business doesn’t directly financially benefit from it, I do benefit from the aftereffects because if the other local businesses are making money they are spending it locally,” said Laura Walker, owner of Laura’s Custom Artwork in Lake Placid.

Others, who want to keep the event, have developed an emotional connection and see it as part of Lake Placid’s culture.

After describing how she and her son would watch the finishers in the final hour and how powerful it was, Jamie Lynn Campbell of Lake Placid commented, “I feel that Ironman is part of the magic of our community and the branding of Lake Placid.”

“Ironman changed my life forever. I have huge gratitude for the event. I personally hope it never goes away,” said Vermontville resident and seven-time Ironman Lake Placid athlete Wes Wilson.

Some of those who are against Ironman returning to Lake Placid have offered alternate solutions.

“The city of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and St. George, Utah are two destinations that chose to renew a contract with Ironman on a rotating race circuit and have the full Ironman intermittently rather than every year. With this large event coming to Lake Placid every three years, there would be a reduction in community fatigue and a decrease of annual stress on our infrastructure,” Friedlander wrote in her letter.

Ironman’s contract with ROOST, Lake Placid and North Elba will be up for renewal again next year.