Ironman skips Lake Lure; heading to Chattanooga in 2014

Aug. 20, 2013 @ 04:18 AM

Lake Lure and neighboring town Asheville will not be the site of the next full Ironman race for the southeast. The bid went to Chattanooga, Tenn., a four hour drive west of Asheville.

Chris Braund, town manager for Lake Lure, said the announcement was not surprising, although there is disappointment.

“We knew over the last two months that the Asheville/Lake Lure bid was challenged by the logistics of two sites and a lot of climbing on the bike leg. Chattanooga has been investing heavily to become a major destination for outdoor sports and it’s paying off,” said Braund.” They’ve been aided in this effort by their new Volkswagen assembly plant, whose sponsorship helped them to attract the US Pro Cycling Championships away from Greenville, SC.  Chattanooga is a great city that has orchestrated an economic renaissance.”

Braund thanks everyone for their assistance and the support of the bid.

“It was a great showcase of our incredible region and we strengthened partnerships between cities and counties on both ends of Hickory Nut Gorge. Asheville/Buncombe County is clearly committed to outdoor recreation and sports events, and Lake Lure and Rutherford County are recognizing the economic impact of this industry segment,” Braund said.

 Braund said the towns and counties will continue to seek opportunities to bring more visitors, athletes and events to the communities. 

He also said in an interview with The Asheville Citizen that  for a worldwide organization like the Ironman to have included Lake Lure spoke volumes to how far the town and Rutherford County has come in being recognized as a significant destination for athletic endeavors. 

The Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) had allocated $7,000 from its fund balance toward the cost if Lake Lure had received the bid. 

TDA was also anticipating $8,000 in additional revenues if the Ironman came to Lake Lure and Rutherford County.

In addition to budgeting the $7,000, TDA was going to give the $8,000 in revenues toward the cost. The $7,000 will not be used from fund balance.

“Sure we are disappointed,” said Michelle Whitaker, TDA executive director. “But what really pleases me was the team efforts, the partnership, Chris Braund made with the tourism development in Asheville. That will have long term benefits for the tourism industry.”

The Ironman will consist of a single-loop, 2.4-mile swim in the Tennessee River with viewing spots alongside the city’s Riverwalk; a two-loop, 56-mile (for a total of 112 miles) bike course with scenic farmland and mountain views; and a two-and-a-half loop 26.2-mile run course through downtown Chattanooga, the South Side, Riverview and the North Shore.

“What worked against us was the distance between the swim and the finish line,” said Ben VanCamp, executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission, in a quote to The Asheville Citizen. “The commuting time from Lake Lure to Asheville they felt was too long. Lake Lure was our best bet for a lake swim for its quality and scenery. It’s nice to know it was nothing we did wrong, it was just the nature of the circumstance. I’m happy for Chattanooga.”