Goodbye Blaine, RochesterFest and Gear West...

blaine swimThe MTN Guys get totally bummed out whenever a race leaves the calendar. Losing Capitol City, Minneman, Manitou, Chaska and St. Croix Valley hit us particularly hard, as did Turtleman when it left the scene in 2011. We are grateful to Tri Fitness Events for resurrecting T-Man in 2015.

The reasons for cancellation are varied. Dwindling lake volume cursed Turtleman and Manitou. Ubitquitous construction took down Chaska. City government decided against St. Croix Valley, which would have celebrated it's 18th anniversary in 2017. The urgency to replace body parts spelled the demise of Capitol City.

At the peak of Triathlon's popularity in Minnesote (2007 - 2011), our calendar grew to 70 events. During the initial slide, however, that roster grew to 83. Race directors did not know that race attendance had peaked.

These days, shrinking attendance and financial unfeasability are the primary causes of event cancellation. And races are dropping like flies. Less than 55 races are scheduled for 2018.

Here are three of the races that will not return next season: ...



1. BLAINE TRIATHLON - This was a wonderful event, lovingly and energetically produced. Its venue is outstanding and the ratio of volunteers to participants was 1-to-1. It lasted for six years, drawing 300+ entrants in 2012 and 2013, then dropping to half that many for its final four years. 

It's possible that Blaine's shrinkage was not solely a function of the trend that appears to be affecting most races. We suspect that it's date--mid-September--was at least partially to blame. Sharing a weekend with Ironman Wisconsin isn't helpful. Not only do hundreds of Minnesota athletes race in Madison, a few thousand of them attend the event as spectators and support crews. It's possible that Blaine's demise is mostly about scheduling. Minnesota's athlete pool is especially shallow on IMOO weekend.


2. ROCHESTERFEST - The loss of this decade old race hurts our hearts. Rochester NEEDS a triathlon. It's a health and fitness community that needs signature events. We wish we knew how an event that drew 500+ athletes in its early years, had only 121 finishers in 2017. We will mention that Tri Rochester Club and the RochesterFest races were gifts from Bill and Wendy Nevala, whose lives eventually demanded that they step away from those things. We'd love to see the Nevalas, plus RBM, Brad Mitchelll, Dani V, Super Mario et al get together to create a first-class multisport experience in the great city of Rochester.

3. GEAR WEST DUATHLON - After a quarter century, the plug has been pulled on the Gear West Duathlon, which historically has been among America's most respected and most competitive run-bike-runs. The 2017 race had just over 100 finishers, a quarter of its heyday enrollment. As an early season race, weather has played a crucial role, and GWD has endured its share of yucky weather days. 

We beseech Minnesota's multisport community to sign up for races that need a boost, thereby doing your part to keep those races on the calendar until our sport experiences an upswing. The good news is that there are positive signs, subtle though they may be, that an upswing may have already begun. Also, many race directors--all directors are invited to participate in this--are discussing ways to revitalize the lifestyle in Minnesota.

Getting back to the Gear West Du, it's possible that the new owner/management at Gear West, which is actually the original ownership, may want to keep the GWD going.

We hope that happens, and that athletes do their part to keep this institution going.


0 #2 Daniel Kirk 2017-12-08 14:17
I'm sorry about the loss of these events. I've participated in the Blaine event the last few years and enjoyed the event and venue very much. I think that a combination of factors influenced the decline in turn-out e.g., timing of other races (as mentioned) and the fact that they dropped the USAT membership requirement - so more die hard Tri enthusiasts may have looked elsewhere. Going back to an early Spring start might have increased appeal. 'Plan to continue "Tri-ing" in 2018 and encourage friends.
0 #1 Steve Paladie 2017-12-07 21:18
Bummer, man! As a crafty, wily veteran I'll miss 'em all. As a tri addict, I'll continue participating as much as I can, as often as I can.

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