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Next year’s Ironman 70.3 is canceled

Triathletes pedal their bicycles near the Olympic Center in Lake Placid during last year’s Ironman 70.3 race. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — Next year’s Lake Placid Ironman 70.3 has been canceled.

The cancellation of the half-distance triathlon was announced by Ironman Friday, amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing concern over the safety of mass gatherings. Mary Jane Lawrence, chief of staff at the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, confirmed the cancellation that same day. ROOST pays Ironman to host its events in Lake Placid each year, and it won’t be paying the $100,000 fee for the 70.3 next year.

A 70.3-mile triathlon consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13,1-mile run, each half the distance of a full 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon.

The cancellation comes a few weeks after Ironman organizers announced that this year’s full and 70.3 events would be postponed to 2021, based on “the updated mandate from the Village of Lake Placid and Township of North Elba in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

ROOST CEO James McKenna said Monday that almost every Ironman race has been canceled this year and that the Ironman Group plans to focus on its main races next year, which in this area is the full Ironman triathlon.

Ironman Lake Placid Race Director Greg Borzilleri deferred comment to the Ironman Group, which did not immediately respond for comment Monday.

Lake Placid’s Ironman 70.3 usually takes place in September, a few weeks after the full Ironman in July. Each typically draws more than 2,000 athletes from around the world, plus thousands of athlete friends and family members, spectators, Ironman staff and volunteers.

Both events are a boon for the largely tourism-driven local economy. The cancellation of this year’s Ironman triathlons and the 70.3 next year — paired with the cancellation of other large-scale sporting events this year such as the Lake Placid Horse Shows, Can-Am hockey, Can-Am Rugby and Summit lacrosse tournaments, due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 — will likely deal a major blow to this region’s hospitality industry, which is already among the hardest-hit industries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Statewide, the leisure and hospitality industry lost 601,300 jobs between May 2019 and May 2020, according to the state Department of Labor.

On social media, some athletes expressed frustration about Ironman’s refund policy. One person said they were offered a $75 refund after paying $350 to register for a 70.3 triathlon. A class-action lawsuit was filed against Ironman and the World Triathlon Corporation in May over refunds for events canceled due to COVID-19.

A few locals expressed disappointment that the 70.3 event wouldn’t return next year.

“Wow this is disappointing,” wrote David Lally. “We volunteer for the bike race in Wilmington and always look forward to it. But we understand.”

“This is so sad! I live in Keene and this race is so much more accessible than the full. It’s the race for the rest of us!” wrote Julie Dupont-Woody. “I hope if Ironman doesn’t bring it back, Rev3 or Challenge will.”

Athletes who are registered for the 70.3 next year should receive an email from Ironman with details about the cancellation.

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