By Jan Holst | Advance Newspapers
on November 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM, updated November 18, 2013 at 1:50 PM
The same day that Grand Rapids Triathlon representatives were to appear at an Ada Township Board meeting to firm up details for the June 2014 race, USA Triathlon officials brought them news of a special designation.
The Grand Rapids Triathlon, which is held on the eastern side of Kent County and primarily in Ada and Cascade townships, will be the official host of Long-Course National Championships. “The designation comes after an in-depth study of top triathlons across the country and this is the first time Long-Course Nationals has been hosted by a Michigan Triathlon,” said race director Andy Vidro.
“It is really cool,” Vidro told Ada board members, “that our race will be brought to the national level.”
Specifically the designation means that triathletes looking to compete in the USAT Long Course World Competition in Sweden 2015 must come to the local race to qualify. Anyone who finishes in the top 20 of their age group at the Grand Rapids Triathlon will be invited to represent the United Stated in Sweden in 2015.
The Grand Rapids Triathlon and Long Course Triathlon Nationals will feature a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run. It is scheduled for June 8 in the two townships. In addition, the Grand Rapids Triathlon offers a Sprint and Olympic distance and is known for its flat, fast course that appeals to both the elite athlete and the new triathlete.
Also new this year will be a special event for children ages 6-15. The Splash and Dash, a swim-bike event, will be held in the Greenbrier neighborhood in Grand Rapids Township. “We expect about 100 to 200 children for the event,” said Vidro. “We believe it is important to offer something for the kids. They are our future athletes.”
The Tris4Health group puts on both the Grand Rapids Triathlon and the Michigan Titanium and both, which have experienced exceptional growth in the last couple of years, benefit the community, said Vidro.
“The participants who will visit our community for the first time will be amazed by the efforts put forth by the sponsors, volunteers, and race directors to make it one of the best national events they will experience,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission.
Ada officials gave their support to the event and agreed to road closures necessary for the race. Supervisor George Haga asked race directors to consider “partnering more with Ada businesses,” such as offering promotions and encouraging business participation.
Parking issues for race goers and spectators in the past may be eased a bit this year with a change in sponsorship. Title sponsors last year were Fox Motors and Huntington Bank; this year Fox Motors has been replaced by Amway.
“Amway co-sponsoring this year may be beneficial as well,” said Vidro. “And we may be able to utilize some of their parking during the event.”
Mark Fitzpatrick, Ada Parks director, is working with Vidro’s team to facilitate the event locally. “We are very pleased about the attention this race brings to the area and are excited about the most recent recognition (national status of event),” he said.
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