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The 5150 Clearwater race, which was slated to take place on the same weekend the Ironman World Championship 70.3 has in the past, has been cancelled leaving the city without a way to replace the dollars generated by the 70.3 race.
When organizers decided the Ironman World Championship 70.3 would move this year from Clearwater to Las Vegas, Clearwater’s only salve was the promise of a new race — the 5150 Triathlon.
But this week, the World Triathlon Corporation abruptly cancelled next month’s race due to too few registrants. That leaves the city without its signature tourism magnet and the dollars that follow.
“It’s very disheartening, very disappointing,” said D.T. Minich, executive director of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. “We were happy to have this to replace the Ironman. Now, for this to happen, it’s really a blow.”
For five years, the Ironman championship brought thousands of athletes and widespread media coverage during a slow spell for local businesses. Visitors to last year’s event paid for nearly $1 million in hotel stays alone, Minich said.
But with this year’s start of the shorter, less-watched triathlon, fewer athletes seemed eager to compete. About 700 registered, drastically lower than expectations and almost half last year’s turnout, said Philip LaHaye, the 5150 Series’ director of operations. “We couldn’t go into this event and produce it without taking a sizable loss,” he said.
Read more: Tampabay.com