Organisers of the Yamba triathlon were so impressed with the “vibe” of the weekend’s festivities that they are planning to expand the event into Maclean next year, to take advantage of the nearby topography.
Mark Emerton, the CEO of Elite Energy, the company that coordinates the Yamba Triathlon Festival, said a drive “around Woodford Island with some of the people from council” last Thursday “showed us some [possible] half ironman courses”.
At this stage, Elite Energy’s plan is to stage a half ironman event – a 2km swim, 90km ride and 21km run – in Maclean on the Saturday, then the rest of the festival in Yamba on the Sunday.
“Next year we want to turn it into a two-day festival [of competition],” Mr Emerton said.
“It’s called an ultimate triathlon and is half the distance of the famous Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon.
“We’ll swim in the river [possibly adjacent to the Maclean rowing shed near Ferry Park] then ride out to Lawrence, come back to [Cameron] park next to the swimming pool [for the transition], then do a 21 kilometre run around the town, so we get a real community feel about it.
“All the locals get tables and chairs and sit outside and watch as athletes run around the town.
“We’ll come back to Yamba on Sunday and run all of the races for the families and kids.”
Mr Emerton said the ‘Ultimate’ event would improve the event’s “marketing power” and further improve competitor numbers.
Reflecting on last weekend’s activities in Yamba, Mr Emerton said that moving the transition area to the car park between Turners and Whiting beaches had lifted the “vibe and feel” of the event.
“A lot more people came from out of town this time,” he said.
“When we left [Yamba] last time, we didn’t have the same positive vibe we’ve got now – so we’ll be back.”
In March 2015 Elite Energy announced that it would not be running the event in September of 2015 due to it not being “financially viable”; however, following the efforts of the Clarence Valley Triathlon Club the event was resurrected and moved to the February 2016 dates.
In May 2015, Mr Emerton told the Independent that “Yamba is a really hands-on kind of town; just about everyone in Yamba welcomes you: the coffee shops, the restaurants, the accommodation and the event partners; everybody really wants to have [the triathlon] there.”
On Monday he echoed those sentiments, praising the community for its interaction and participation, particularly the volunteers.
“Every volunteer receives $50, which goes back to their clubs, and we give them a t-shirt, hat, sunscreen and feed them,” Mr Emerton said.
“It was a good vibe among the volunteers – I think we had 25 people from the surf club [and others from various clubs], they were amazing.”
The Color Me Rad event was dogged by rain on Sunday morning.
Mr Emerton described the turnout for that event as “okay”.
“We had 150 people turn up, so we didn’t get the numbers we wanted – it was a novelty event and it might not happen again,” he said.
On dates for the mooted 2017 event, Mr Emerton said it would be “around this time”.
“We’ve just got to make sure we do it outside of the school holidays, so we can fill all of the hotels and motels in Yamba when it’s not so busy,” he said.
“We’ll have a look at the dates around it – last week we had an event with 5,500 people and another this week in Wollongong with 2,500 people.
“We’d love to do it tomorrow, we love what we do, our team, we’re athletes ourselves, but it will have to wait a year.”