Race officials, the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau and Mayor Betsy Price joined forces Tuesday to announce a groundbreaking sports event in the city.
Tri Fort Worth, a full- and half-distance triathlon, is scheduled May 21, starting with a swim at Marine Creek Lake and a finish in downtown Fort Worth.
The race, a joint venture of the CVB and Trident Sports, will consist of 140.6- and 70.3-mile routes. The CVB is the title sponsor. Trident, a triathlon, running and fitness center in Fort Worth, owns the race.
The event will be one of the few independent long-course triathlons not associated with Ironman, the corporate behemoth brand that operates races throughout the world, including an annual race in The Woodlands, which will present competition for the Fort Worth race. Ironman also stages a half-distance triathlon in Galveston and Lubbock in April and June.
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“There are very few [independents] in the country, but the ones that are there are pretty big,” said Tim Tarpley, owner of Trident Sports. “We have more to offer than many other cities.”
15,453 USA Triathlon members in Texas as of 2014
During the ice storm in 2015 that canceled the full Cowtown Marathon, “the city was out there cleaning the roads and they didn’t have to do anything,” Tarpley said. “That’s huge. That shows what the city will do. That just doesn’t happen in other places.”
In addition to the 2.4-mile swim at Marine Creek Lake, competitors will have a 112-mile bike ride north to Krum, northwest of Denton, and back to downtown Fort Worth. The 26.2-mile run will begin and end in downtown. The logistics for bike storage in downtown are still being worked out, but the Fort Worth Convention Center is a possibility, Tarpley said.
Race organizers had initially talked to Ironman about coming here, Tarpley said, but Ironman officials instead decided to go back to The Woodlands, which is north of Houston.
Having put together the bid, officials discovered a race still could be put together and at a lower cost to organizers and competitors, Tarpley said, for a market ripe with potential entrants. Dallas-Fort Worth has 16,000 triathlon competitors, Tarpley said. Entry fees for Ironman races reach $800.
The greatest growth in triathlon has been in the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups, according to USA Triathlon.
“We realized we could do this ourselves and have a better event,” Tarpley said. “It won’t have that corporate feel to it. And we’ll have a better product and actually be better off for everybody involved.”
Everybody involved includes local vendors, which will have business opportunities in the race rather than be shut out by those under contract with Ironman.
Early registration is $400 for the full distance and $225 for the half. The Ironman North American Championship, set for April 22, opens at $710.
Race officials are planning for 1,000 full entries and up to 500 for the half, though that number could grow, said Tarpley, who added that secondary sponsors were lining up. The Woodlands capped its entry at 2,500 in May.
Trident Sports also produces the Mayor’s Triathlon, which was created by Price. The sprint-distance race takes place downtown in July. This year’s event was sold out. Price, an avid cyclist, opened the campaigning for the Tri Fort Worth with a promotional video generated by the CVB.
It’s an advantage having the mayor as an ambassador, Tarpley said. Price was in Cleveland preparing to address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.
“If it’s something that will positively affect the area, she’s all about it,” Tarpley said.