Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shepparton loses Ironman 70.3 event

A substantial fee increase has proved too much for Shepparton Triathlon Club to bear and it has ended negotiations for a new licence for an Ironman 70.3 event.

MATTHEW GALEA February 21, 2014 4:13am

Local triathletes such as Tony Avram will have to look elsewhere for Ironman 70.3 events.

The Shepparton Triathlon Club has expressed its disappointment to have lost the right to host an Ironman 70.3 event in Shepparton following failed negotiations with USM Events for a new licence agreement.

The previous three-year deal ended with last November’s race, which attracted 1396 competitors, and STC announced yesterday that the event would not be returning to Shepparton, despite spending 18 months at the negotiation table with USM Events, who operates the Ironman brand for World Triathlon Corporation in Australia.

STC president Stacey Cole was disappointed to make the announcement, which ends a 16-year tradition, but said the club was immensely proud of the quality of race it put on.

‘‘There are mixed emotions for the club because we’re very proud of the race and what we’ve been able to put on,’’ Cole said.

‘‘We’ve been negotiating for 18 months, and we’ve tried to come to an agreement, but the licence fee went up substantially and we knew that we had to cover that amount.

‘‘We tried to reduce that fee and spoke to other parties to see if they could help us cover it, but it wasn’t possible.’’

STC committee member and former Ironman 70.3 race director Peter Guy said he was sorry to see the race go, but the club was not willing to compromise the quality of race put on to meet the financial demands.

‘‘From their perspective, they’re commercially driven ... but from our perspective we’re providing the athlete experience as our highest priority,’’ Guy said.

‘‘We could cut costs to try and meet the licence fee they wanted, but that would damage our reputation and affect the quality of the race and athletes’ experience.’’

STC member Jason Shields was shocked by the news and said the greater triathlon community, including triathletes from outside of Shepparton, could not believe the race had gone.

‘‘I think I’ve had about 20 Facebook messages asking me if this is for real,’’ Shields said.

‘‘I think (the club) might lose some people, the race was a great reason to join.

‘‘It gave them a race that they could do locally; they can just pay the entry fee and train on the course without having to worry about spending a fortune just to get to a race like it somewhere else.’’

Cole said that while the news was not good, the club still had plenty to offer.

‘‘It was obviously a very good race for the members, but it was a huge burden on the committee, so there’s more than one angle you can look at this from,’’ Cole said.

‘‘We’re proud of what we put on, but sometimes these things happen.

‘‘We can now concentrate on a different type of event, sometimes we were maybe a little too focused on the long-course stuff, but there’s still other exciting stuff we can with our members,’’ Cole said.

‘‘We’ve got the Rural Tri Series sprint race on Sunday, so we’re looking forward to that and building that up.’’

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