Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Jamestown Triathlon is an official USA Olympic Triathlon championship location this year. Here’s what it means for tourism

Swimmers prepare for the Jamestown Triathlon at Jamestown Beach Event Park in 2014. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Joe Schrader Photography)
Swimmers prepare for the Jamestown Triathlon at Jamestown Beach Event Park in 2014. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Joe Schrader Photography)

A longtime Williamsburg-area triathlon event is upping the stakes this June.

The Jamestown Triathlon, hosted by Kinetic Multisports every June at Jamestown Beach Event Park, has been designated to host the USA Triathlon Mideast Olympic-Distance Regional Championship this year.

It will be the same event as previous years, but athletes can use their finish times at the June 8 race to qualify for the 2019 Age Group National Championships, Kinetic Multisports owner Greg Hawkins said.

The age group nationals will be on Aug. 11 in Cleveland, Ohio.

“It’s the same event as every June, but it just gives that person who wins the ability to say ‘Hey, I’m a regional champion at this district,’” Hawkins said.

Because the regional championships are in Jamestown this year, Hawkins said the triathlon will attract at least a few hundred more racers and spectators — many will be top-tier athletes.

Last year, the Jamestown Triathlon attracted about 700 athletes. Hawkins hopes being a regional championship location will increase the number of athletes by about 20 or 25 percent, to 900 or 1,000 athletes.

The course includes a 1,500-meter swim in the James River, a 40-kilometer bike course and a five-kilometer run.

A race of the Jamestown Triathlon’s caliber can expect about two spectators per athlete, creating an influx for 2,500 to 3,000 people in Greater Williamsburg that weekend.

Lisa Pacheco, director of sports development for Sports Williamsburg, said the area has gradually become a desirable destination for races such as marathons and triathlons.

The course features scenic views of the historic James River and other parts of James City County. There are also family-friendly attractions in the area for athletes and their spectators to enjoy in their off-time.

On May 5, Chickahominy Riverfront Park will host the Ironman Virginia 70.3 half-triathlon, which took the place of the smaller REV3 Triathlon.

The race is slated to be at least twice the size of the Jamestown Triathlon, bringing more than 2,000 professional athletes and their spectators to the region.

RELATED STORY: Boon or bust? How will the world-popular Ironman race impact Williamsburg?

“It’s sports tourism, and we’re identifying that as its own market,” Pacheco said. “These people are bringing their families because we’re a family-friendly destination. That has helped make us a successful destination.”

Sports tourism events such as marathons and triathlons can also be a boon for the local lodging industry.

Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association President Ron Kirkland said the Jamestown Triathlon is held during a traditionally slow time in June: the weekend after Memorial Day, before school summer break.

Kirkland said data from Smith Travel Report shows Williamsburg area hotels were about 66 percent occupied on average in June 2018. Of more than 7,000 total rooms in the area, about 2,600 rooms were empty on the average day.

“That would suggest we do have capacity,” Kirkland said. “If you look at our competitors … things are event driven. What we’re hoping if while you’re here participating in a triathlon, you’re swimming by Jamestown and Jamestown Island, or riding a bike down the Colonial Parkway, and that’ll encourage you and other participators to come back again and see the attractions we already have.”

Hawkins said organizing a race for hundreds of people “takes a village.”

Police and emergency medical personnel need to be onsite, and James City County staff need to assist in planning certain components of the race.

“We pay for all the services, but it’s really nice to be able to call them up and say ‘Hey, we’re coming,’” Hawkins said. “Sports Williamsburg, James City County, Charles City County — they’re all really great to work with.”

Those interested in competing can visit the RunSignup website for the Jamestown Triathlon. Registration for the event’s various races range from $95 per person to $135 for a team.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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