Over 2,000 athletes gathered before sunrise on the shores of Great Marsh Park in Dorchester County last September 20th to begin the first leg of the inaugural 2014 IRONMAN Maryland triathlon. The race started with a 2.4 mile swim in the fresh water of the Choptank River, which led to a 112 mile bike ride through the flat roads of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and finished with a 26.2 mile run through historic downtown Cambridge. The finish line, located at the Waterfront Park and Marina, was something that Gerry Boyle, IRONMAN Maryland Event Director, had only ever dreamed of before May of 2014.
“For years, I have dreamed of an energetic finish line at the end of High Street with our scenic marina in the background. I was skeptical if this dream would ever come true, but IRONMAN Maryland allowed me to see that dream become a reality,” Boyle said.
The event, which is the first in the Mid-Atlantic region and only the 12th U.S. location in the IRONMAN series, was planned and executed in an astounding four-month timeframe. Amanda Fenstermaker, Director of Dorchester County Tourism, credits both the Cambridge community and Boyle with successful execution of the event. “This was an exceptional example of what a community can accomplish when it comes together for a mutual cause… We were very fortunate that Gerry Boyle, the long time event coordinator for IRONMAN Eagleman 70.3 and ChesapeakeMan, became the race director for the IRONMAN Maryland race. He has 18-plus years of experience in athlete event coordination,” she said.
Fellow Sports Reporter Terry Hasseltine (and Executive Director of Maryland Sports) commends Dorchester County and the City of Cambridge for their excellent work and the community support that allowed the event to occur in that four-month planning period. But he asks that the race not be judged as a success or failure after only one year. “After the second year, if you think it failed, I’d be willing to come down here and hear that discussion as to why it failed,” Hasseltine said. “I can tell you right now, it didn’t fail.”
IRONMAN Maryland is reported to have generated more than $3 million to the Dorchester County and Cambridge region for 2014. As the second race approaches, Dorchester and Cambridge hope to build upon 2014’s impressive community involvement and economic returns.
“This race was like nothing this community has ever experience before. Businesses were packed all over the region and spectators were all over the streets. Athletes were commenting on Facebook and other social media outlets about how welcome they felt by the community,” Fenstermaker said.
The second IRONMAN Maryland race will be held on Saturday October 3, with a few minor changes made to the 2014 course. Well over 2,000 athletes are expected to participate in the race, and nearly 6,000 visitors are expected to the Dorchester/Cambridge area. Boyle said that the community is also working to add new events and activities to race weekend to make the event family-friendly and more attractive to visitors. According to Boyle, moving the date back by two weeks will create more comfortable race-day conditions for both athletes and spectators.
IRONMAN Maryland will also be looking to increase the number of race volunteers to ensure that the increase in participants and visitors is seamless: nearly 2,000 volunteers are needed for race weekend. To sign up to volunteer for IRONMAN Maryland, please visit http://www.doitsports.com/volunteer2/jobs-by-date.tcl?event_id=218549