Ironman Mont Tremblant

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Muskoka Long Course & 70.3

Posted on Team Running Free Forum

Description: Postby Brandon Habermehl » Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:04 pm
Here is a newsletter from a group of athletes in Huntsville about the loss of town funding for triathlon which could mean the end of Ironman 70.3 Muskoka. I am originally from the area I would hate to lose that race, and since WTC (owner of the Ironman brand) bought the Trisports race series who knows what that would mean for the chase and sprint. Anyways, there is some good news in that WTC wants to add a full distance race to eastern canada for 2012 so that could turn up somewhere local which would be cool. The newsletter has all the info below in case anyone was interested


Happy February everyone!

This past Wednesday there was a meeting that was held at Partners Hall to discuss whether or not we as a community wanted to keep supporting triathlons in Huntsville. More specifically at this time, the 70.3 race held in September.

For a bit of background, please read the outline of the history of the triathlons in Huntsville after the proposal. I know it is a long email, but please take the time to read through this so you understand were we as a community come from. Then please read the issues and the proposal that follows.

This email list does not by any means contain everyone that does endurance sports or triathlons in Huntsville/Lake of Bays area. If you have received this email, please look through your address list and forward this on to them. I apologize this if you get this email a couple of times with people forwarding it on to you, but we want to make sure it gets to everyone. Also, forward it on to people that might be interested in helping out with this community effort, even if they might not be traithletes.


At this meeting there were a couple of issues that were brought forward:
1. Is it worth it to continue to host the Muskoka Triathlon and the 70.3 race?
the thought of the initial committee was that the three triathlons (Sprint, Long Course, and 70.3) provide excellent opportunities for local athletes to participate and encourage those that haven't been involved in this sport before to try the sport without having to travel very far. Local resident participation in these events grow year after year
these races have a positive economic impact on our community.
these races encourage volunteerism which empowers and community self worth. It also provides local residents with the opportunity to see what the sport entails without having to actively participate. The "see one, do one" theory is evident with increased participation in local races, including the Port Sydney Kids Tri.

2. If so, how do we generate the money needed to support the event?
the 70.3 race is a "branded" race. There are several half ironman distance races, but are not internationally recognized or promoted as such. It is like buying "Pepsi" versus no name "Cola" at the grocery store. Pepsi might be a bit more known internationally as opposed to puffed rice because it has a brand
the 70.3 has a licensing fee associated with it, which is several thousand dollars and no matter where the race is held, this licensing fee is paid by the local community
this licensing fee is either cash or services/gifts in kind or in lieu of. So, water at the water stations can be provided by a water company or a water dispensing company. They would just have to donate their services and the water, put a monetary figure to it, and submit it to the local organizing committee. This would be "services and gifts in lieu of cash".

3. Every other event the town hosts has an organizing committee of some consequence supporting the event. Our triathlon events do not. Mitch organizes the whole event and recruits volunteer coordinators to do very specific jobs. Do we have the interest to form such a committee?
on Wednesday we agreed that this would be a worthwhile committee
we are looking for local athletes, endurance and triathlete alike, to help out with this venture ... many hands make light work
individually we don't have the amount of business and personal contacts to help raise this money or enlist the companies that can provide these services

A subcommittee of the Chamber of Commerce Events Tourism Committee be developed to focus specifically on:
raising awareness of triathlon in our communities
raising funds for local triathlons, and more specifically the 70.3, from the above mentioned means (cash, in kind)
advocating for things to be done by the towns services (ie Roads, Summit Centre, etc) to allow for smooth running of these races.
Eventually, the hope is that this will spawn into a formal triathlon club. We all know that this would benefit us all through organized training sessions with coaches that could help provide feedback to help us trainer better and smarter. It will also allow us to encourage and help each other through collegiality and the sense of community through our sport. It will give our sport a voice in our community that is often dominated by hockey and lacrosse.

Please respond to this email if you are interested in helping out with this, and embarking on this venture to ensure that triathlon does not leave our community.

Please come to a meeting of the minds on Thursday, February 17th at 8pm in Partners Hall at the Algonquin Theatre. If there is a change to the venue, a subsequent email will be sent through this site. Please bring ideas of how to generate funds or if you have contacts that might be able to help out with services for these races. Services in kind can be for any or all of the races (short, long, 70.3) and their monetary voice will be put towards the licensing fee if it qualifies.

History and Background (written by one of our local triathlon advocates)

The first triathlon in Huntsville was held in 1989 or 90 – the Triresorts triathlon. It was held in the Hidden Valley, Deerhurst and Grandview area. At the time I knew of only one local person who did triathlons. Most of us didn’t really know what a triathlon was as it was right at the beginning of the evolution of the sport. A group of local athletes decided to try this event. They went on to become the nucleus of the local triathlon community.

In 1991, the National Championships were held at Deerhurst followed by the World Championships in 1992. A citizens’ wave was held in the World Championships in which about 35 local athletes competed. The World Championships were a huge hit locally. Over 2200 volunteer T-shirts were given out.

Two local triathletes qualified for the national team in 1993 and represented Canada in Manchester, England. There was now a well-established group of local triathletes that were competing in the Subaru Triathlon Series. In 1993, a poorly publicized World Cup race was held that was poorly attended. There was no race in 1994 or 1995.

In 1996 Mitch Fraser, now the owner of Trisport (which he purchased from his brother Graham) brought triathlon back to Huntsville. The 2010 Muskoka Triathlon was the 15th consecutive Muskoka Triathlon. The event eventually became the marquee event of the Subaru Series and attracted Olympic Champion Simon Whitfield, World Ironman record holder Luc van Lierde, two-time world Ironman Champion Craig Alexander, triathlon con Karen Smyers and so on. It was voted one of the best races in North America.

Meanwhile the local triathlon community continued to grow and perform well in the Subaru Series. In 1994, Huntsville placed four local triathletes on the national team, two in 1996 and three in 1997.

In about 2003, councilor George Young, as chair of the Huntsville Economic Development Committee started plumping for the town to proactively start going out to attract other sporting events as a way of supporting the local tourist economy. Since tourism represents over 50% of the local economy, everyone (even those not directly involved in tourism) had a vested interest in this initiative.

The Huntsville and Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce presented a proposal to council that it would act as the agent for the town in this initiative. Out of that two committees were formed – one to prepare and execute a marketing plan and the other to actively try to attract events to the community. The town committed $100,000 in each of three years (2008, 2009, 2010) towards this initiative.

In 2007, Mitch Fraser approached the town with the proposal to hold an Ironman 70.3 race in Huntsville and Lake of Bays. Ironman is a very strong and exclusive brand and there was a $50,000 a year licensing fee involved. Would the community contribute $50,000 in cash and services to bring the event to town. Since this was completely consistent with the Chamber’s initiative, an agreement was made to provide this amount of cash and services for a year period.

Ironman 70.3 races were held in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The first was wildly successful, the other two had some competition from other Ironman events and had fewer numbers but were still very successful. Craig Alexander, two-time World Ironman Champion and also World Ironman 70.3 champion felt the Huntsville course should be the World Championship course. The event drew rave notices from the participants.

In 2010, the G8 came to Huntsville and the feds poured money into town infrastructure to support the G8. The town went after all the money it could get in this “one-time opportunity” and was able to build infrastructure that further supported its policy of attracting events to the community. The problem was that the town had to ante up some of its own money to build these facilities. When the dust settled the town now had a debt of about $11 million.

In the 2010 election the electorate, according to mayor Doughty, delivered a clear message, “stop spending and pay down the debt”. The three-year agreement between the Chamber’s Event Tourism Committee and Trisport had expired and it was clear that the grant to Chamber would be greatly reduced. There would not be a $50,000 (cash and/or services) for Trisport.

In the meantime, The World Triathlon Corp. (WTC) – owner of the Ironman brand - was in the process of buying up smaller properties in order to increase its share value for future sale. Trisport sold to WTC with Mitch Fraser being retained as an employee to continue to run the races Trisport had previously run.

At issue is that the Chamber’s Event Tourism Committee will not commit to $50,000 in cash and/or services to WTC for the 70.3 event because its grant is expected to be cut almost in half this year. Other communities have approached WTC wishing to have our event in their community and have committed upfront money and services. It has become a very competitive market as other communities are catching on to its potential to raise the profile of their community in a viciously competitive tourist industry. Will they pull our race from Huntsville/LoB and move it to another community?

Mitch likes the Huntsville venue and would prefer to keep it here but that decision may not be his to make. This year’s race will go ahead but, due to reduced financial support, might have to scaled down (no carbo meal, no TV, etc) making it a less attractive event. What will happen in 2012?

WTC also wishes to have a full Ironman in Eastern Canada in 2012 and the competition for that event will be huge. Should Huntsville be applying? If we lose the 70.3 we will not be in the running for a full Ironman.

Also, since WTC owns the Muskoka Triathlon, will they continue to run that event in Huntsville if they pull the 70.3?
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  1. Thats messed up.

    I'd hate to lose IM Muskoka. I am definintely doing 2012 eastern canada if I can secure a spot. That'd be wicked awesome!

  2. I agree, that would be terrible to lose IM Muskoka. They need a few more IM branded events in Canada!

  3. Hi there,

    Thanks for your comments. This was a letter that I as well as another member of our group, Triathlon Muskoka, originally wrote to Huntsville town council and to the businesses in town. Since then, a lot has changed

    Huntsville is far from trying to get out of holding triathlons here. There is a lot of support in our politicians and our community around these events.

    We believe that we have some of the toughest terrain and most beautiful area to train, race, and relax in. We want people to come here to train and race. A heck of alot closer than Colorado!

    If you are coming up this way, check us out to get some ideas on where to train, stay, eat, and what to do with your family members (if you have any that come with you) while you are here.

    Our new organization is Triathlon Muskoka and you can find us at

    Chair, Triathlon Muskoka (TriMuskoka)