Archive for Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tweaks make triathlon spectator-friendly

June 14, 2009


Triathlon doesn’t necessarily lend itself to spectator-friendliness.

But Ironman 70.3 Kansas race director Ryan Robinson thinks he has done just about everything he can to make today’s event easy on the eyes.

For starters, the bulk of the action takes place in and around Clinton State Park, an easier drive from Lawrence than last year’s epicenter at Bloomington Beach on the lake’s far side.

“I think it really should help that it’s closer to town,” Robinson said.

Spectators are encouraged to use the parking lot north of the park near East 700 Road and North 1400 Road and ride a shuttle bus to the race course.

Robinson encourages fans to be on site in time for the 6:30 a.m. start of the first wave of the first event: the 1.2-mile swim.

“I tell people to check out the swim,” he said. “Just the mass start with the pros … that’s a great sight to witness. We urge people not to try to do too much spectating of the bikes, of course, because cars and bikes don’t do well together.”

Fans hanging around the park can watch the start of the swim leg, both transitions — from swimming to cycling and from cycling to running — and the two loops of the running course. They also can mill around the athletes’ expo, listen to live music and visit the food vendors.

“Just hang out, get some food and that sort of thing and watch the bikes coming in,” Robinson said. “I think it’s great for spectators.”

Bad weather wouldn’t be.

Last year’s triathlon was cut short by storms.

“In the first week or two, there were some frustrated athletes,” Robinson recalled of last year, “but once they got a little bit of hindsight, they saw safety was our No. 1 priority, and it should be theirs. They understood. We ran the numbers, and we had a 66 percent increase from last year, so obviously people came in and liked what they saw and told their friends.”

Still, Robinson expects to be on edge until the conclusion of the 4 p.m. awards ceremony.

“I just keep checking the Weather Channel,” he said, “until they tell me what I want to hear.”


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