CLEVELAND, Ohio — A new long-course triathlon likely to attract top talent from around the world is on its way to Northern Ohio.
Next fall, newly founded race presenter Revolution3 will stage both full and half Ironman-length triathlons from Cedar Point amusement park, starting from Sandusky peninsula and fanning out into Erie county.
At stake for professionals is a prize purse worth $150,000, a sum rarely seen outside the branded Ironman series. Amateur competitors are likely to be lured by distinctive family-friendly features, including special access to the park and high-tech athlete tracking.
The race, set for Sept. 12, 2010, will begin on the shore outside Hotel Breakers, which will open early that week to welcome athletes and their families. From that point, competitors will swim either 1.2 miles (in the half-Ironman race) or 2.4 miles along the peninsula’s east side.
Bryan Edwards, sales promotions manager for Cedar Point, said spectators should be able to view the entire swim leg of the race from the beach.
Upon exiting the water, athletes will transition to their bikes in a parking area, then tuck in for a 56- or 112-mile ride through rural Erie County. Details of the course are still under discussion with police and county officials, but a tentative route shows multiple passes through Huron, Milan, Berlin Heights, and Birmingham.
Finally, the run. Once off their bikes, athletes will complete either one or two loops of a 13.1-mile course along Cedar Point causeway and through downtown Sandusky.
The finish is likely to be somewhere on the grounds of Cedar Point. “That’s what guests and families will be most interested in seeing,” Edwards said. “It’ll be a first for us, but it’s something we thought we should try.”
Kevin Park, a competitive triathlete in Chardon, said he suspects the bike and run courses will be “flat, boring, and probably windy,” but still called the area “a great place for a race.”
Judging by responses from the one event Revolution3 has mounted to date, a half-Ironman race last month at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn., it’s clear the company knows how to stage triathlons.
“They attracted a good field of pros,” Park said, alluding to winners Matty Reed and Miranda Carfrae. “For a first-time race, it was pretty impressive.
“This is not a fly-by-night group. These are athletes and people who know what athletes are looking for. I think it’s going to draw really well … There’ll be high-profile people who will show up looking for a payday.”
But athletes aren’t the only people Revolution3 is taking into consideration. Spouses, relatives and children are also high on the presenter’s list of priorities.
In the days leading up the race, Edwards said Cedar Point plans to hold a series of special events for triathletes and their guests, including possible evening openings of rides and other attractions. Each participant will receive two complimentary tickets to the park that weekend, he said, along with two shirts, a medal, and various athletic accessories from Revolution 3.
During the race, families also will be able to follow their loved ones in real time by means of custom GPS devices, which will relay each athlete’s progress to a Web site. It’s a feature bound to make life easier for spectators in a race even the fastest will take eight or nine hours to finish.
For triathletes in Northeast Ohio, the timing could hardly be better. Revolution3 arrives on the market just as the Mentor-based Greater Cleveland Triathlon has discontinued its half-Ironman race, the longest event of its kind north of Columbus.
By offering both 70.3- and 140.6-mile races, Revolution3 fills two important gaps, offering practical, local alternatives to the popular Ironman brand, whose events tend to sell out quickly and are only available in surrounding states.
“Right now, a lot of people are excited just because of the location,” said Ken Beech, a member of the Cleveland Triathlon Club planning to make the Cedar Point race his first Ironman-length event.
“For either of these distances, you kind of have to travel, and with kids, it can become too much to take on. Here, the family will have something to do while I’m out abusing myself.”
With entry fees of $500 and $250 for the two main distances, the Cedar Point race costs about as much as Ironman events. A September timeframe places Revolution3 in the vicinity of Ironman races in Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.
Registration for Revolution3 opens in August or September.