Annapolis race loses bikes, athletes

Organizers plan aquathon this year but will work with city for future triathlons

August 24, 2008|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,

Two-thirds of the nearly 1,500 athletes who had signed up for the former Annapolis Triathlon on Sept. 7 have withdrawn since Anne Arundel County officials refused to issue permits for the 40-kilometer bicycle portion of the race.

With little time left to reapply for a parade license, Jeremy Parks, a co-founder of the event, said promoters have scrapped the triathlon and switched to an "aquathon" that will include a 1.5-kilometer swim and a 10-kilometer run.

"Our goal was to bring a world-class event to Annapolis, and we intend to do that with an aquathon for this year, then work with the county to create a course we can use every year," said Parks, an Annapolis developer. "For whatever reason, we were denied this time, but we're hoping to bring in 300 to 400 who'll participate. We want to come through this in a positive way and look to next year."

The modified competition is sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport, Parks said.

Promoters of the event, which was to have raised money for charities for at-risk youth and an endowment fund for Anne Arundel Community College, say they lost as much as $10,000 this year.

The Annapolis club will refund entry fees of $175 to each participant who signed up for the triathlon, Parks said. Athletes who sign up for the aquathon will pay $75 each, Parks said.

The county's department of inspections and permits mentioned safety concerns this month in turning down the request, especially the well-being of riders along heavily traveled roads that were a part of the triathlon course.

"There was concern for participants and for general public safety," said Tracie Reynolds, a department spokeswoman.

Last year, triathlon club members and other volunteers put on a successful triathlon after making concessions to downtown churches and businesses that had worried about traffic deterring parishioners and customers. City economic development director Mike Mirone said Annapolis officials are disappointed the abbreviated event will take place at Sandy Point State Park.

"As far as the city is concerned, it's greatly diminished, almost a nonevent," Mirone said. "We were all geared up to hire a [consultant] to gives us the economic impact. We hope things can be worked out for next year."

Steve Ruck, who owns four bicycle shops in the county, says interest generated by last year's race boosted business. In the nearly 20 years he has been in business, growth has averaged about 5 percent a year, he said. Last year, business jumped 11 percent.

"I wouldn't be able to put a number on the impact of the full race, but this year, we are already tracking about 12 percent. It seems that people are getting excited about the sport."

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