Triathlon has lost of one of its most iconic events.
Wildflower founder Terry Davis announced yesterday that the Wildflower Triathlon Festival will not take place in 2017. The iconic event, known as the “Woodstock of triathlon” was one of the most popular half-iron distance triathlons in the world until drought conditions in California in 2014 forced the event to take on a non-traditional format of a 1.2-mile swim, 2.2-mile run to T1, 56-mile bike and then a 10.9-mile run.
“It is with great sadness I am announcing that due to the four years of drought, the economic climate and the drop in participation in the sport of triathlon Tri-California Events will not be producing the Wildflower Triathlon for 2017,” Davis said in a statement on Tricalifornia.com. “Even though we were able to produce quality events in 2015 and 2016 with an alternate swim, run, bike, run course and the weather was good on race weekend, we were not able to attract enough triathletes and families to make the event economically feasible. This also affected the exhibitor, sponsor, and camping revenue. The financial loses are too great for us to do the event without the water levels high enough to have the event all in one location.”
Even with the challenges, the Wildflower Triathlon still earned a spot on our list of bucket list triathlons earlier this year. The festival is most well-known for its half-iron distance marquee event, but also included an off-road triathlon as well as an Olympic-distance event that hosted a collegiate championship each year. The reality is that moving the swim took away from the race’s festival-like atmosphere and ultimately led to a steep drop in registration.
“In the 34 years that I have been producing the Wildflower Triathlons, I have never experienced anything that compares with the effect of the prolonged drought,” David continued. “There was only one year where we had to move the swim start from the Lynch area to the Harris Creek area, but the rains came in the winter and we were back to a Lynch with a full lake.”
The festival was at its height in the 2000’s, with the 2007 weekend welcoming 7,000 participants. Davis has hopes that the event will someday get back to that status.
“We continue to pray for rain for our great state,” the statement continues. “When the drought is over and the water levels are normal, we hope to return The Wildflower Triathlon back to the iconic event that it was and is. There is not another event in the world like Wildflower and we need it in our sport.”
Tri-California will not produce any events in 2017 as the conditions have impacted their races across the board.
Read some of the industry reaction below: