While most sporting events are being canceled, organizers for Ironman Tulsa remain optimistic the full-distance triathlon will take place in Tulsa this year.
“It is just a postponement,” said Matt Stockman, vice president for Tulsa Regional Tourism. “We are in a signed contract with Ironman, and the event will still happen in Tulsa.
“That’s the positive light out of it. We can all take a moment and deal with this crisis and everything that’s going on and know we still have something to look forward to in the future with them coming to Tulsa.”
The competition, scheduled for May 31 but postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak, is slated to be Ironman’s first new North American triathlon since 2014. Tulsa is among 40 cities worldwide that are hosts for the triathlon, and this year’s event is part of a three-year deal that would bring it back here in 2021 and 2022.
“Tulsa is proud to partner with Ironman, and we look forward to hosting a safe event for participants once this pandemic event subsides,” Tulsa mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement.
More than 2,500 athletes are expected to participate in the event, which features 2.4 miles of swimming in Keystone Lake and 112 miles of cycling through Osage, Creek and Tulsa counties in addition to a marathon (26.2 miles) in the downtown Tulsa area.
“Constructing the course to fit Ironman standards was one of the more challenging processes we’ve ever had in making a bid,” Tulsa Regional Tourism president Ray Hoyt said last year. “It’s not just a marathon. It’s not just a 100-plus-mile bike ride. And it’s not just a 2.4-mile swim. It’s all of those rolled into one.”
Because of the number of cities and counties involved, event organizers are working with various officials to identify a rescheduled date that doesn’t interfere with other events. The triathlon can occur in any season except winter.
“We’ll choose the date that best fits for all of our partners as well as with Ironman,” Stockman said. “We want it to be successful for Ironman, but we also want it to be successful for Tulsa. We want people to come to Tulsa to experience this event.”
With an estimated 10,000 spectators, Ironman Tulsa is expected to bring in an economic impact of $11 million — which could be badly needed after a loss of revenue during the ongoing pandemic.
“We’re looking forward to events like this and all the other events we are hosting to really come back in and help build that business and that economic impact here in the community,” Stockman said.
As title sponsor, Certified Piedmontese Beef will donate 2,000 pounds of beef to a local nonprofit organization and a $10,000 grant to the Disaster Relief Fund for Eastern Oklahoma, which supported flood-recovery efforts in the Tulsa area last year.
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