triAthlone 2011 plans contingent on agreement of traders

Saturday July 2 is the date to put in your diaries for triAthlone 2011, providing an agreement can be reached in the coming weeks with the town’s traders, some of whom say they suffered a loss of business during last year’s event.

There will be no elite race, and there is a possibility that the bicycle route and transition area may be moved to the east side of town, according to triAthlone CEO Liam Heavin.

He also revealed that Athlone will make a bid to return the European Triathlon Championships to the town within the next five years.

Speaking as the finishing touches are being made to plans for this summer’s event, Mr Heavin explained that a number of meetings had been held with the Gardai, Athlone Town Council, local residents, and traders over the past number of months.

“Our first port of call was the Gardai and town council to analyse the traffic side of things, the economic effect, media exposure, and whether we presented the town in the best light. Last year we had €1.5 million worth of coverage. The viewership on the Sunday evening was 130,000, and TV coverage was relayed in 130 countries and translated into 23 languages. It was a phenomenal reach, and Athlone was very well presented,” said Mr Heavin.

“Since November we have been having frank and open discussions with local businesses and residents, and one of the biggest problems people had was with road closures. A large proportion of west side residents and a small number of businesses were particularly affected. If there is an event in 2011 there will be nothing like the scale of road closures and problems in terms of access.”

One major change to this year’s event will be the exclusion of the elite European Cup Race event, which last year cost €150,000 to run. Last year’s event cost a total of €550,000 but raised only €500,000.

“I am absolutely certain there is not going to be an elite race this year. If we drop the elite race it saves us four hours of road closures. Also, if we have an event in 2011 we need to pay the debts of last year and not incur any further debts. I’m not saying we won’t have an elite race again. The plan is to bring the European Triathlone Championships back to Athlone within five years,” said Mr Heavin.

The organisers have also been asked by the town council to consider moving the cycle route and transition area to the east side of the town, and two potential routes are being considered.

A meeting the week after next should firm up the plans and allow the event to be opened up to participants for registration.

“We will have a proposal to present to traders in the next two weeks. If it is ratified we will go forward from there as a unified entity,” added Mr Heavin.

“We know we can deliver the event. We are hoping when we come out of that meeting we will be ready to go.”


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