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New York Ironman Canceled After 1 Year, Citing Urban Challenges

The Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim (3.9 kilometers), 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. Photographer: Craig Ruttle/AP Photo
The Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim (3.9 kilometers), 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. Photographer: Craig Ruttle/AP Photo

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Citing the difficulty of staging the event in an urban market, organizers canceled the New York-area Ironman triathlon after one year.

The move comes after World Triathlon Corp., which owns Ironman, raised the entry fee to the 2013 race to $1,200 from $895. The price increase, and other factors, had led the company to suspend registration for next year’s event while re-evaluating its plans.

“This race cannot be conducted in the way our athletes expect and deserve,” World Triathlon said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “Producing an event in a large urban market is complex and challenging.”

The Olympic-distance New York City Triathlon, which is about 1/4 the length of an Ironman, is unaffected. The 2013 race is scheduled for July 14.

World Triathlon cited a combination of ferry service, a lack of spectator access and other factors for the decision. The 140.6-mile (226-kilometer) race, which involves a 2.4-mile swim down the Hudson River, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run, “needed substantial improvement,” Ironman said.

This year’s race was also hindered by a New York City noise ordinance that didn’t allow music or the use of a public address system at the finish line area in Riverside Park after 10 p.m.

The event’s swim leg was in question after a broken sewer line led to a controlled discharge of 3.4 million gallons of chlorinated raw sewage into the river three days before the race. The race was allowed to continue after health officials said the river passed a water-quality test.

Sold Out

The inaugural event on Aug. 11 sold out its $895 regular race slots online in 11 minutes. It was the most expensive triathlon in the Ironman series, as the typical entry fee for a race is about $575.

When registration opened for the 2013 race on Aug. 12, the price rose to $1,200, leading to backlash among triathletes. At the time, John Korff, the event’s local organizer, said the price increase was too high and would probably put an end to the race.

After receiving complaints about the price and the race’s logistics, Ironman, which is owned by Providence Equity Partners Inc., suspended registration just hours after it opened.

Refunds were given to early registrants who paid $1,200, a 34 percent increase over this year’s fee, Ironman said.

While Korff, 60, said there were minor logistics issues that need to be addressed, the decision to suspend the registration was based mostly on economic reasons.

World Triathlon didn’t cite the price increase among the feedback it received before deciding to cancel the event.

Difficult Start

Some competitors in this year’s race said it was difficult to get to the event’s start area, which required a ferry ride at 4 a.m. local time, and said the race’s run portion through Manhattan’s Riverside Park was difficult due to numerous pedestrians being on the course.

“We dreamed a very big dream that can only come true in New York City,” Korff said in an e-mail, adding that he was “very happy and proud of what we were able to do, happy for the athletes, volunteers and amazed at the cooperation of the many government agencies. That’s a first.”

World Triathlon and Korff said the decision to cancel the event was unrelated to the death of a 43-year-old male competitor in the swimming portion of last month’s race. The South China Morning Post identified him as Andy Naylor, a father of three and a member of the Hong Kong Police Force since 1992.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Buteau in Atlanta at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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