Lawrence is the place to pedal. And, evidently, run and swim too.
In its upcoming October edition, triathlete.com names Lawrence as its top “Tri Town” in the U.S.
The publication says Lawrence is a haven for triathletes, and cites everything from Don “Red Dog” Gardner’s community workouts to the city’s reputation as a bike-friendly community with some of the “nation’s most considerate motorists.”
But Lawrence tourism leaders said the success of the three-year old Ironman 70.3 Kansas event has been what’s put the city on the triathlon map.
“The Lawrence event has become a big draw,” said Bob Sanner, director of sports marketing for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This year the event attracted about 2,200 athletes, with participants from all 50 states. The race is expected to get a major boost in 2011 when the Ironman circuit increases the total prize purse to $75,000, up from $25,000, said race organizer Ryan Robinson.
Robinson said he expects participation in the event to grow to at least 2,500 racers.
“It is a cliché, but I really think the success has been because of the people,” Robinson said. “Everybody who comes here just talks about the city and how easy it is to have a good time and enjoy themselves.”
Lawrence also recently landed on another national Top 10 list for quality of life issues. MSN.com included Lawrence as one of its 10 “Most Livable Bargain Markets.” The report ranked communities on factors including low unemployment, short commute times, and the number of cultural and recreational opportunities.
The publication touted Lawrence as a city that “battles against sprawl and discourages the development of strip malls and drive-through restaurants.” The Lied Center, the Lawrence Arts Center and Clinton Lake also all get positive attention.
Lawrence was joined on the list by several Midwestern cities, including Ames, Iowa, Lincoln, Neb., and Sioux Falls, S.D.