Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brooklyn Triathlon

Max will no doubt have thoughts on this post.  Each of the last two years, I have considered signing up for the first Brooklyn Triathlon.  Last year the event was scheduled in mid-November, and was cancelled well before, when somebody realized that it would be really cold!!  They announced a better date, and a simpler course, and a whole bunch of friends of mine signed up.  I would have, were it not a week before the Marathon.  Well, it looks like I'll still have an opportunity to do the first Brooklyn Tri.  Yesterday they cancelled again, posting this on their website.  Gotta say, August seems a bit late to be submitting a request for a permit for a major event.  Just sayin' . . . 

Two years ago, because of Hurricane Sandy, I experienced the cancellation of the year's A race.  It was a wrenching experience, redeemed by the availability of another race a few weeks later (the Brooklyn Marathon).  That's not going to work for my tri-friends.  October 26 is the bitter end for the tri-season in the Northeast.  I would be very frustrated with the organizers for not having their act together . . .


  1. There's lots of precedent establishing the difficulty of hosting a triathlon in an urban environment. Ironman NYC was a "one and done" event; registration fees for the first year were over $900, and for year 2, they raised the fee to $1400 before eventually deciding it just wasn't the place for a race.

    For a couple of years, the "DC Triathlon" (as opposed to the Nations Tri) was held on the Mall in June. One year it even was designated an ITU race, and therefore attracted truly world-class pro athletes. Ironman purchased it, and then was forced to cancel it over the winter, and to refund everyone's entry fees. Apparently the difficulty of hosting a major event in an urban environment was prohibitive.

    In all, I think triathlons are just a difficult thing to host in urban settings. The footprint is too big. The events that tend to happen in big cities -- Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon -- tend to be huge, with tens of thousands of people among whom to spread the cost. Triathlons, in contrast, tend to cap out at 2,000 or so in all but very rare circumstances. You almost never see the tri equivalent of a local 5k hosted in a big city.

    In this case, it sounds like the NYC bureaucracy isn't terribly user-friendly, but, as you say, it doesn't really sound like the race organizer has all his ducks in a row, either. Good evidence of that theory is provided by his idea of hosting a small triathlon in Brooklyn.

  2. Regrettable! One is tempted to say something snarky like "reason 11 why . . . " -- but agreed, if this was what you planned for, that's a big big disappointment.

    I agree with Damon with a caveat or two. DC is a tough example because I understand the National Park Service is even more bureaucratic than a big city (like DC). IM NYC is a good data point -- if anybody knows how to handle permitting it is Ironman -- but it also had other problems, like nasty germs in the water, annoying logistics for athletes comparable to the NY Marathon start, and apparently a hot ugly course. (On the other hand, it was wicked fast.)

    I do know I'd hate to be RD for a big multisport event! I also know I won't be targeting Brooklyn for a triathlon any time in the near future.

  3. The thing is that the eastern edge of Brooklyn is not exactly the big city. Coney Island/Brighton Beach is a great place for the swim. The Boardwalk allows you to mostly avoid streets for the run. The only hard part is the bike. Okay, that's like saying, "and how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?" Never mind. Point taken.