Annual race in Gilford posted end on Facebook
By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — The Ironman 70.3 Timberman triathlon, started by a local athlete in 2001, will not continue in 2017. Taking its place in the Ironman-branded events will be a new Ironman 70.3 event at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, on Aug. 27.
As of deadline, Ironman had not made an official announcement of the decision to discontinue the Timberman events, which included both a "Sprint" triathlon, featuring shorter races, and the 70.3 event, which included a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. A few thousand athletes were attracted to Gilford each year for the events, which served as a qualifier for the prestigious and grueling Ironman triathlons.
The "events" page on www.ironman.com still lists the Timberman; however, its date field reads "TBD," while dates are listed for other events through September of 2017. On the race's official Facebook page, an athlete complained about that omission and asked if the Timberman, as well as another race, known as "B2B Full," would be canceled.
At 6:43 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, the official Timberman account responded:
"Timberman is not happening as well as B2B Full."
Efforts to contact a representative of the World Triathlon Corporation, which includes the Ironman brand, were unsuccessful.
Myles Chase, owner of MC Cycle and Sport in Laconia, which had served for several years as the official bicycle service shop for the Timberman, said on Monday that he had heard in October that there was a chance that the event might have had its final run, and that he learned of its cancellation at the beginning of November.
The Timberman was an important event for the early years of his business, Chase said, though in recent years it became an ordeal that distracted his shop from its local customers. Still, he was disappointed to hear that the event was leaving.
"It's a bummer for the community. It has always been a gateway event for athletes who want to enter a triathlon," Chase said. The loss of the event will also negatively affect the many local nonprofit organizations that staffed the Timberman in exchange for a donation.
"A lot of local organizations just lost an opportunity to raise money as well," said Chase.
For Maureen Nix, a member of the Lakes Region Triathlon Club, the cancellation came out of the blue.
"Myself, as well as other members of the Triathlon Club, are shocked to find out that the race was cancelled. It was a good way for the athletes in the community to train together on a local course. An event of that nature in our back yard was a wonderful opportunity," said Nix.
The Timberman was started in 2001 by Keith Jordan, a local athlete who wanted to offer a triathlon in his home state. Within a few years of its founding, owing to the beautiful setting of the Lakes Region and the friendliness of the local volunteers and hosts, the Timberman had gained national notoriety as a "must-attend" triathlon. He also founded a triathlon in Bristol, the Mooseman, as well as several other events both in New Hampshire as well as around the country.
In 2009, he sold the Timberman and Mooseman events to the World Triathlon Corporation, which discontinued the Mooseman in 2012, and, apparently, the Timberman after the 2016 running.
Nix said that the sequence of events, as well as the Ironman's lack of communication with local athletes, has left a smear on the brand's name.
"It kind of sours people on Ironman, leaving the Lakes Region high and dry," she said, noting how Jordan had created an event that became a yearly highlight for so many. "Now, they just pull the rug out. It's really discouraging when a local guy built it up to such an incredible event, and now it's gone."
Jim Kallmerten of Syracuse, N.Y., gives the thumbs up as he enters the water for the 1.2-mile swim during the Timberman 70.3 on Aug. 21. (Karen Bobotas/File photo)