Monday, December 6, 2021

IRONMAN survey results show support, but room for improvement

ironman

Lake Placid, NY — The results of the IRONMAN Task Force Committee community survey are in and the numbers show that there is generally support for the IRONMAN race, but there are opportunities for improvement to make the event more favorable for locals and regional residents.

The survey was released by the IRONMAN Task Force and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) and ran from October 20 to November 1. With the goal of understanding the impact of the IRONMAN race on the community, respondents were asked about specific positive impacts, as well as challenges, associated with hosting the IRONMAN Lake Placid triathlon. 1,598 complete responses were used in data analysis, with respondents segmented by zip code to best understand how the race is viewed based on location.

ROOST Chief of Staff Mary Jane Lawrence began a Task Force meeting by saying that the goal of this is to “accomplish what is best for the communities moving forward.”

In the first general question, overall respondents indicated that they are in favor of the IRONMAN Lake Placid triathlon, with 49% in favor and 41% opposed. However, just accounting for locals who live on the course itself (449 complete surveys out of 1,598), almost 50% oppose hosting the race. The numbers show that locals living on the course are less supportive of the event than locals who do not live on the course.

Those who have competed, volunteered, or been a spectator are much more likely to support the IRONMAN race, while those who have not been involved in any way, are not as likely to voice support. For business owners, overall favorability of IRONMAN is very similar to that of those that do not own their own business.

Lowering the impact of the race itself was a common theme in many responses. The number one complaint amongst all respondents was athlete training, specifically road cycling, in the weeks leading up to the event. One respondent commented that training creates dangerous road conditions, especially in the Wilmington Notch, a main thoroughfare with small shoulders. Overall, respondents said they support establishing a maximum number of competitors (26%) and altering the route to minimize congestion (24%).

Training before the big race is just as important to consider. ROOST CEO James McKenna said that aside from the IRONMAN race itself, “there are a lot of people who like to [cycle] on the course. Projections of cycling indicate growth regardless of the event.” To many on the Task Force, that information means it’s time to enhance “share the road” messaging and better communicate the rules of the road.

“People are very aggressive when driving,” said Dorine Peregrim, one Task Force member said during a meeting. “People need to ride single file. These are just simple courtesy issues when we share a single resource.” Lawrence followed up by saying that regardless of the outcome of these Task Force meetings a major goal of 2022 marketing should be to promote sharing the road.

What’s next

After studying the data, the Task Force will make recommendations on how best to proceed with IRONMAN in the future. In 2021, when considering whether or not to renew the IRONMAN contract, it was decided to extend a one-year contract with IRONMAN Group and form the task force to gather further community insight.

Dave Christen, IRONMAN Regional Director and Task Force member, said that many of the detriments respondents indicated in their surveys will inform actionable items for future races. Christen said there are some statics, like the date for the 2022 IRONMAN race, but certainly educational elements can be addressed sooner rather than later.

The IRONMAN Community Task Force aims to offer a recommendation no later than the end of 2021. The 2022 ViewSPORT IRONMAN® Lake Placid triathlon will take place on Sunday, July 25,2022.

Full survey results can be found on ROOST’s research webpage. Information on the IRONMAN Task Force can also be found on ROOST’s website.

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19 Responses

  1. Billy says:

    Perhaps if the biggest complaint was the training on certain parts of the road, simply make those sections off limits to biking normally? The day of the event would be a special exception (that is, assuming that the racecourse couldn’t be easily altered to avoid those areas).

    There are other roads that prohibit walking and biking on them, and there are many miles of other back roads in the area that people could use to ride on for practice, or at least it seems.

    • Steve B. says:

      State law generally allows cycling on all roads, excepting limited access type highways. This should not change. It’s a dual burden for cyclists to follow the law and not obstruct traffic whenever they can, with the understanding that sometimes they do, just as farm vehicles, slow moving construction vehicles, etc… often do. If motorists can be patient when they encounter other slow moving vehicles, they can be patient when encountering cyclists, who have as much ride to use the road as anybody else.

      Oddly, in a typical triathlon, it is not allowed for cyclists to draft another cyclist, you are typically required to pass. Thus, riding single file can sometimes be a rule violation. Just a consideration for others to be aware of on race day.

      As well, about the only way to structure the event to not be a burden to those who live on, or need to drive on the cycling and running course, is to relocate the course to the boonies, with a lake swim in a non urban area, and the cycling and road running legs also on very rural roads. Perhaps a start and finish in downtown LP is just a bad idea. Perhaps move the race to Tupper Lake, with a run and bike leg out Rt 3 to the west and then up Rt 56 to Colton, on some less travelled roads.

      • Billy says:

        I was thinking on the day of the race they actually block part of the road off (like only allow traffic one direction on it, so those competing have a whole lane to use), thus that wouldn’t be an issue?

        It was more based on the survey saying that the training was the issue.

        • Steve B. says:

          The issue with training is most of the race participants are from out of the area and given that the LP Ironman is a notoriously difficult race, they want to ride the route prior to familiarize themselves with the hills, turns, etc…. Thus there are going to be many more cyclists on the route for a day or 2 prior. No escaping that.

  2. Trailogre says:

    You know…….
    Just because you are in a car
    Everyone else does not have to leap off the road for your convenience

    Bicycles have the right to the road
    And that right should be respected

    Doesn’t matter if your late
    Or inconvenienced

    Take another road , leave at a different time

    • Billy says:

      That was not the suggestion.

      It is just that there are sections of road where the cyclists may not be safe. No one can guess when going around a sharp turn that there will be a slow moving vehicle (be it a bike, car, farm or other vehicle). Those other slow vehicles are less likely to have issues, since even if a car were to hit them they are protected, while a person on a bicycle is not.

      The same way someone wouldn’t try to ride a bike on many of the trails in the area (no matter if it was allowed or not) – those with steep drop offs simply wouldn’t be safe to bike on, so it seems not surprising that there might be other places that would also not be safe to ride a bike.

  3. Todd Eastman says:

    Triathlon or hiker parking…

    … lowering the speed limits on all roads in and out of Lake Placid to 35 or 40 mph and enforcing it would help.

    Maintaining the lower speed limit through the winter would have the benefit of reducing the salt use…

    • Billy says:

      Why should those travelling have to be slowed down in most of the area where it is unnecessary?

      Either some short slow zones where there are actual issues might work (like the few spots with multiple parking areas near the road), or simply enforce what already exists (that is the existing limits for car speed, and the existing rules for bikes and pedestrians). If those are followed, there should be no issues.

      In terms of the winter, most people are smart enough to know that following the standard speed limits is not going to work when there is snow and ice present, and will slow down accordingly. Those who don’t will figure it out when they deal with the outcome of not doing so 🙂

  4. Todd Eastman says:

    There are many bike riders other than the triathletes that use the roads in the region they are legally entitled to ride on.

    If outdoor oriented people are going to have their access to hiking trails reduced because of policies to limit the numbers of hikers in the High Peaks Wilderness, expect the roads to have more of these folks switch to bikes for enjoying their Adirondack vacation time…

    … more bikes on roads means fewer cars wrestling for space on the roads and for the limited parking…

  5. JT says:

    I often travel that stretch of road between Lake Placid and Keene, along the Cascade Lakes. In the summer it is very popular with the cyclists. I could never figure out why that section is so popular with cyclists with the volume of traffic on that road. How is it even enjoyable? Not only the risk of getting hit, but breathing all of those exhaust fumes. If I was into cycling, I would find more suitable places. There’s a lot of back country roads in the North Country with very little traffic.

    • Todd Eastman says:

      You’re not into biking and so you don’t get it…

      … it’s a major uphill and many bikers like pushing the effort bar.

      Most riders visiting from outside the region find that Rt. 73 has far less traffic than what they deal with daily on their rides.

  6. JT says:

    Todd,
    Actually, as a teenager I did a lot of biking. it was our main mode of transportation getting to see friends. That was back in the day no one wore helmets.
    Yes, I believe too that most of the cyclists are not from the area so they have a different perspective.

  7. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Just because you are in a car Everyone else does not have to leap off the road for your convenience..”

    Nope, but this is 2021, not 1941. It is not far-fetched anymore for a driver to take it upon himself and, on a whim, to divert his course and decide to plow into pedestrians (and kill them outright) because he was having a bad day, or whatever his excuse is for his mental derangement. We make our own choices, and me…. I stay away from roads generally speaking when I’m walking (I don’t ride a bike anymore) or I step way aside when one is approaching. Survival instinct leads me to such. I don’t trust anybody, especially drivers, and especially so knowing the capabilities of this dysfunctional society. I’ve got stories to share as surely everyone has theirs. There are no surprises anymore, them days are long gone!

  8. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ” No one can guess when going around a sharp turn that there will be a slow moving vehicle…”

    Especially when they’re fixed on a handheld device while they’re at the wheel.

    • Billy says:

      That would obviously make it worse, but it applies to those who are smart enough not to do that as well.

      If you can’t see around the turn, you can’t see what may be there, no matter what you are(n’t) using 🙂

  9. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “you can’t see what may be there, no matter what you are(n’t) using 🙂”

    Of course Billy, but my point was that people ‘are’ looking into handheld devices as they drive whereas they’re not supposed to be doing this…it’s against the law, not that that matters (evidently.) I see it multiple times, then some, whenever I am driving.

    Fatalities from motor vehicle crashes are way up in number, and so are vehicle-pedestrian fatalities. This coincides with cellphone technology, or apps, or whatever the distraction is. Stories! There’s a thousand of them by now. How about the elder woman in Watervliet some few years ago. Nearly 100 she was. Known for being seen walking around town every day, a fixture. Then one day, after all of those years with her routine….she crosses the road at an intersection, she had the green light. A man in a car was stopped, and as the elder woman was crossing in front of him the car suddenly moved forward. Not fast forward, just forward at a little more than a crawl. Enough to knock her down and kill her. The papers never did say how this car suddenly decided to crawl on its own at a red light, but I’d wager a year’s pay that the driver was looking down into his handheld device and did not take notice of his foot off of the brake and the car suddenly inching forward. All those years of living and boom, over like that due to absence of mind by someone else. How sad and unfortunate!

    • Billy says:

      I wasn’t saying that people using these devices can’t cause issues, just that it isn’t 100% due to the devices that problems occur. If that was the case, then there would have been no incidents prior to them existing, and that wasn’t the case then either.

  10. Charlie Stehlin says:

    I was not implying one thing or another Billy, just responding to your post is all.

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