Local organisers of the cancelled Ironman 70.3 Ireland 2013 are to develop a long-term strategic plan with key stakeholders in a bid to secure the event’s future in Galway.
Over 1,500 national and international athletes were left disappointed last week after event organisers were forced to call off the race, which was due to take place in September.
The Irish leg of this year’s Ironman European Tour was omitted from the official tour schedule last October but organisers had remained hopeful they would be able to secure required funding from Fáilte Ireland in time for the endurance event, which involves a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km run.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, Eoin McCormack of Galway-based E&R Events said it was disappointing that funding negotiations with Fáilte Ireland could not be concluded in time to open the 2013 race.
Fáilte Ireland provided €65,000 for the city event in 2011 and 2012 and €130,000 was being sought by organisers for this year’s event, with Mr McCormack stressing that other European cities that host the race receive €250,000 in State funding.
“Through no other reason than not being able to get it done on time, we’ve lost it for this year anyway,” he said, explaining that considerable lead-in time is required for the race, with athletes signing up ten months to a year in advance.
“We had 1,596 people pre-registered from all around the world, we have had to cancel tour operators from the UK, Continental Europe, and North America,” he said, adding this was particularly disappointing in the year of The Gathering.
According to a report by the Western Development Commission, the event contributed €10.1 million to the local economy in 2011 and this year’s event, which would have been branded ‘Ironman 70.3 Ireland: The Gathering’, was to include additional events, such as an ‘Ironman Kids’ event and a 10k run.
Stressing that it would be a “lost opportunity” if the funding for the event cannot be secured for 2014, Mr McCormack said that, in addition to developing a strategic plan with stakeholders, such as the Irish Sports Council and Galway City Council, organisers would be meeting with Fáilte Ireland representatives in the coming weeks to discuss a long term plan for 2014 and other future races.
A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland said the State agency is “fairly positively disposed” towards the Ironman 70.3 Ireland, but that, “as custodians of taxpayers’ money, we also have to balance that, and the potential in the Ironman event, with our need to invest our money wisely”.
“It’s important that we match events like this with a proper and suitable commercial model,” he said.