Story by Eli Ruiz
BETHEL March 8, 2013 Sullivan County will be hosting a triathlon competition this spring, as a resolution to host the swimming portion of the grueling three-stage event at Lake Superior Park was green-lighted by the County Legislature’s Public Works Committee last Thursday.
The so-called “Woodstock Triathlon Festival” slated to take place at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and Lake Superior on Saturday, May 4 is described on the company web-site as: “a half and Olympic distance triathlon.”
The event will be put on by a company named Split Second Racing owned by Doug Rice of Monmouth County, N.J. who, according to the company’s web-site, has been putting on all types of racing events for almost 25 years. The company claims to handle every aspect of its various events, from the preparation, to the timing of the races “and everything in between.” The site also claims that the company produces and times 15 events of all sizes annually.
Rice said that aside from his hopes that the event will attract up to 150 participants, he also plans to make the triathlon an annual affair and grow the race each subsequent year.
Asked why he chose Sullivan County for the event, Rice said, “Well, I lived there between 1980-1985 and ran my first triathlon there. I used to be the parts manager over at Arthur Glick [Chevrolet] and I always trained there for the various events I participated in. I also know the roads very well and the natural beauty up there is just unmatched.”
Rice said he hoped to not only attract locals, but also folks from northern New Jersey and New York City, and added, “Like I said, it’s just such a gorgeous area and we really want to grow this event.”
Bethel Woods is also excited about the event’s prospects.
“This unique triathlon event will attract dedicated race fans from the Tri-State area to Sullivan County, and we are delighted to make ourselves available to showcase the county’s beauty,” said CEO Darlene Fedun. “In addition, we are very grateful to the triathlon organizers for thinking of us and working to support the programs we offer to the children and young adults in our community.”
Regarding the date of the event and the water temperature on May 4, Rice explained, “It would obviously be better if we could do this in the summer, but from my experiences in Sullivan County, the hotels there don’t tend to have very many vacancies in the summer months, so that had a large part in our decision to hold the event on that date.”
Rice added, “Local fishermen estimate that water temperatures will hover around the mid-50s [degrees] at that point of the year. I know that the lowest you should go with these things is about 50-degrees and I myself have done it in 54-55 degree water and was fine, plus the competitors will be wearing wetsuits anyway and that helps a lot. If we have a bitter cold end of winter and they’re still ice fishing up there in April then we’re in trouble, but we are just hoping for the best.”
A half distance triathlon consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1 mile run, totaling 70.3 miles in all.
An Olympic-style triathlon totals a less challenging 32.13 miles and consists of a .93 mile swim, a 28 mile bike and a 6.2 mile run.
The run portion will take runners past the Woodstock monument, which is located at the very spot where the stage was set during the historic 1969 gathering.
The second bike transition and the finish are located on the exact grounds where the original concert took place.
The legislature’s February resolution involved the swim portion of the event and was brought before legislators by Sullivan County Parks and Recreation head, Kristen Porter.
Porter explained that she was approached by Split Second last September. She said Split Second has already visited the site to gauge how far out the contestants would swim out.
Porter also confirmed that she’s already spoken to the owner of Lake Superior Park, Jim Hall, who is Executive Director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and that Hall was extremely amenable to the idea, and said according to Porter, “of course, we love stuff like this.”
“We’re going to sit down, myself and the Director of Parks, the Legal Department and Risk Management, and come up with some kind of contract so that Split Second Racing can utilize Lake Superior Park for the swim portion of the event,” offered Porter.
“I think an event like this will have a positive impact on Sullivan County,” added Porter. “To bring that many people not including spectators out here during the shoulder season for tourism is an awesome thing.”
For the event to move forward, the full Sullivan County Legislature must now approve the measure to allow Split Second Racing to utilize Lake Superior Park. Porter stated that she believes the measure will indeed pass legislative muster.
Race time is set for 7:45 a.m. on May 4 and pending legislative approval will start off with the swim portion at Lake Superior Park on Dr. Duggan Road in Bethel.
For more information on the Woodstock Triathlon Festival, course maps and rates please visit Split Second Racing’s web-site at splitsecondracing.net.