IRONMAN survey results show support, but room for improvement

Dec 1, 2021


- The results of the IRONMAN Task Force Committee community survey are in and the numbers show that there is generally support for the IRONMAN race, but there are opportunities for improvement to make the event more favorable for locals and regional residents

The survey was released by the IRONMAN Task Force and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) and ran from October 20 to November 1. With the goal of understanding the impact of the IRONMAN race on the community, respondents were asked about specific positive impacts, as well as challenges, associated with hosting the IRONMAN Lake Placid triathlon. 1,598 complete responses were used in data analysis, with respondents segmented by zip code to best understand how the race is viewed based on location.

ROOST Chief of Staff Mary Jane Lawrence began a Task Force meeting by saying that the goal of this is to “accomplish what is best for the communities moving forward."

In the first general question, overall respondents indicated that they are in favor of the IRONMAN Lake Placid triathlon, with 49% in favor and 41% opposed. However, just accounting for locals who live on the course itself (449 complete surveys out of 1,598), almost 50% oppose hosting the race. The numbers show that locals living on the course are less supportive of the event than locals who do not live on the course.

Those who have competed, volunteered, or been a spectator are much more likely to support the IRONMAN race, while those who have not been involved in any way, are not as likely to voice support. For business owners, overall favorability of IRONMAN is very similar to that of those that do not own their own business.

Lowering the impact of the race itself was a common theme in many responses. The number one complaint amongst all respondents was athlete training, specifically road cycling, in the weeks leading up to the event. One respondent commented that training creates dangerous road conditions, especially in the Wilmington Notch, a main thoroughfare with small shoulders. Overall, respondents said they support establishing a maximum number of competitors (26%) and altering the route to minimize congestion (24%).

Training before the big race is just as important to consider. ROOST CEO James McKenna said that aside from the IRONMAN race itself, “there are a lot of people who like to [cycle] on the course. Projections of cycling indicate growth regardless of the event." To many on the Task Force, that information means it's time to enhance "share the road" messaging and better communicate the rules of the road.

“People are very aggressive when driving," said Dorine Peregrim, one Task Force member said during a meeting. “People need to ride single file. These are just simple courtesy issues when we share a single resource." Lawrence followed up by saying that regardless of the outcome of these Task Force meetings a major goal of 2022 marketing should be to promote sharing the road.

What's next:

After studying the data, the Task Force will make recommendations on how best to proceed with IRONMAN in the future. In 2021, when considering whether or not to renew the IRONMAN contract, it was decided to extend a one-year contract with IRONMAN Group and form the task force to gather further community insight.

Dave Christen, IRONMAN Regional Director and Task Force member, said that many of the detriments respondents indicated in their surveys will inform actionable items for future races. Christen said there are some statics, like the date for the 2022 IRONMAN race, but certainly educational elements can be addressed sooner rather than later.

The IRONMAN Community Task Force aims to offer a recommendation no later than the end of 2021. The 2022 ViewSPORT IRONMAN® Lake Placid triathlon will take place on Sunday, July 25,2022.

Full survey results can be found on ROOST's research webpage. Information on the IRONMAN Task Force can also be found on ROOST's website.