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Princeton Ironman 70.3 canceled and it’s not surprising April 13, 2015

Posted by Brian in Brian Kelley, New Jersey, NJ, opinion.
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2014 Princeton Ironman 70.3 at Mercer County Park in West Windsor, N.J. (photo by Brian Kelley)

The inaugural Princeton Ironman 70.3 triathlon was a huge event held in Mercer County in September 2014. Nearly 2,500 athletes competed and the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce estimated the economic impact on the area was between $3 million and $6million.

However, the 2015 Princeton Ironman 70.3 has been canceled because it could not secure a satisfactory bike route in the area. Here is what was included in a recent e-mail sent to participants:

We regret to inform you that the 2015 IRONMAN 70.3 Princeton triathlon will not take place this September. IRONMAN is responsible for securing a race course which meets the high standards of our brand and provides our athletes an unparalleled race experience. Race courses must also be approved by the local authorities. Unfortunately, after numerous attempts, we were not granted the necessary approvals for the bike course.

And that bike course is where last year’s Princeton Ironman 70.3 was ridiculously problematic and NIMBY-istic.

The problem is that, despite the name and the fact that both the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Princeton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau were the driving forces behind the Ironman coming to the area, the Princeton Ironman 70.3 had absolutely nothing to do with Princeton.

The event started and finished in Mercer County Park in West Windsor, N.J., roughly two miles away from the southernmost tip of Princeton. The 1.2-mile swim took place in the park’s lake and the half-marathon component was a double loop within the park and on adjacent roads and properties.

The 56-mile bike ride also started and finished in Mercer County Park, but that didn’t even go into Princeton. In fact, the course went in the opposite direction of Princeton, heading south into the Mercer County communities of West Windsor and Hamilton, and the western Monmouth County municipalities of Allentown and Upper Freehold before looping back toward Mercer County Park.

This meant that there were a number of road closures in these locations — again, NONE OF WHICH were in Princeton. Yet, the event was marketed as taking place in Princeton and by Princeton-based marketing entities. Excuse the language, but that’s pretty much bullshit.

If Princeton wants to reap the economic benefits of an Ironman event so badly, it should at least accept some of the logistical burdens of staging such a major event, such as road closures and expenses.

Now, without any knowledge of what actually went down, I’m guessing the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce convinced the municipalities involved that the course selected in 2014 was simply the best fit for the Ironman 70.3. And I’m guessing these municipalities decided to give it a try and see if they saw any economic benefits from hosting elements of the event there. What probably happened is that they didn’t, and when they were approached about the 2015 bike course, they justifiably declined to have their residents and businesses inconvenienced for nothing.

The truth is, Princeton has a lake for a swim course, and they have plenty of roads for a half-marathon (in fact, Princeton hosts a half-marathon every year) and part of a bike course. If Princeton wants to host an Ironman event, it should actually host it instead of imposing on neighboring communities, businesses and residents.



1. Brian - April 14, 2015

Reblogged this on Brian Kelley: Portfolio.

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