Ironman Australia, Port Macquarie council leave 2021 triathlon event on Father's Day

The Port Macquarie Ironman Australia and 70.3 will proceed on September 5.
The Port Macquarie Ironman Australia and 70.3 will proceed on September 5.

FATHER'S Day will be race day in Port Macquarie on NSW's North Coast.

The Port Macquarie Ironman Australia and 70.3 will proceed on September 5.

Hours of lengthy discussion between council's CEO Dr Clare Allen and Ironman Australia officials to determine if this year's race could be moved so it did not clash with Father's Day, did not achieve an alternative solution.

Councillors debated a recommendation put forward by mayor Peta Pinson on May 3 following submissions from Camden Haven businesses on the impacts of the community's ability to celebrate Father's Day.

Cr Pinson's push to have the race rescheduled was overruled by fellow councillors who agreed council's CEO Dr Clare Allen would enter immediate negotiations with Ironman Australia to find a more suitable date by the close of business on Monday. If a decision could not be reached, the event would proceed as scheduled.

In determining the decision, there were many variables as to why another date could not be agreed upon, council said.

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The Ironman Group needed to consider dates of other Ironman events, seasonal issues, tides and water temperatures, as well as an already determined national events calendar.

The calendar of confirmed local events for Port Macquarie-Hastings was also a key factor.

The Port Macquarie Ironman Australia and 70.3 was postponed and ultimately cancelled in 2020 due to COVID health restrictions. It was then rescheduled to September 5 from May 2 this year following devastating floods across the region.

The mayor's request meant the event, which attracts thousands of athletes and their supporters to the region injecting about $10 million into the economy, would be moved for a third time.

Ironman Australia regional director Chris Jervis said after the floods, it was agreed that moving the event from May 2 to September 4-5 was in the best interests of the community.

Mr Jervis and Ironman Oceania managing director Dave Beeche worked with directly with council staff, Destination NSW and the Local Organising Committee at the beginning of April where they agreed to push the race back to September.

In his submission to the council, general manager of Laurieton United Services Club, Rob Dwyer, said the Ironman event "paralyses" the community. He was supported by Club North Haven.

Dr Allen said every alternative was explored.

"We discussed the idea of a different route in great length, but given the time frame and the strong safety concerns raised, this was considered not possible to change," Dr Allen said.

"We really appreciate that not only have the Ironman athletes endured last year's cancellation, but also the postponement earlier this year due to the natural disaster. We are very appreciative of their willingness to try to meet the recognised needs of our community.

"We understand the angst in the community due to the significance of the date, and it is not our intention for these impacts to disenchant our community. This was not an easy decision to arrive at."

Cr Pinson said the decision was "disappointing".

"The event being held on Father's Day will be incredibly disappointing for those in the Camden Haven region, particularly after all they have been through," Cr Pinson said.

The mayor argued the region had been through "absolute hell" in the floods and to deny businesses and families, particularly those in the Camden Haven region, the opportunity to enjoy Father's Day did not fit with the region's sense of community.

Cr Rob Turner was supported by Cr Geoff Hawkins and deputy mayor Lisa Intemann in keeping the event locked in on September 5 if council's CEO and Ironman Australia officials could not agree on an alternative.

The Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce supported the Ironman event going ahead as planned as a celebration the region was "back in business".

This story Ironman negotiations commit race to Father's Day first appeared on Port Macquarie News.