Triathletes registered for the inaugural Ironman 70.3 National Harbor event scheduled for August 5 were disappointed to learn about its cancellation last Friday.
Even more disappointing was that the organizers offered no reason for the sudden cancellation in its initial statement.
Athletes received the following e-mail; the same message was posted on the official World Triathlon Corporation's website:
Dear Ironman 70.3 National Harbor Athlete,
The inaugural Ironman 70.3 National Harbor Triathlon has been cancelled. Athletes registered for the event will receive a full refund of their entry and processing fees.
Refunds will be issued within 30 days and will be credited to the card used for registration through the Active Network.
Ironman is committed to helping participants reach their goal of racing an Ironman 70.3 in 2012 and will further offer each athlete impacted by the cancellation a $50 discount to one of the events listed below:
[. . .]
Thank you for your understanding and patience through this process. We wish you the best of luck with your training and racing.
Turns out Ironman 70.3 National Harbor were following orders from folks at Ironman, who apparently asked them to "stay silent [. . .] so that the damage to Ironman's brand would be minimized." Race organizers issued a statement via Facebook yesterday afternoon calling themselves "fools" for agreeing to Ironman's wishes, which ultimately left registered athletes without answers and out of a race.
The Ironman 70.3 National Harbor Triathlon was cancelled because not enough athletes were registered for the event. Ironman asked us to stay silent, not post anything on social media and not send out any press releases so that the damage to Ironman's brand would be minimized.
We were fools to agree and that was a big big mistake on our part. We should have communicated immediately and told you the reason from the start. We were definitely wrong not to do so and apologize. The six figure financial loss from the event was more than we could manage.
Ryan Hudson of Stride Nation said a similar statement was sent via e-mail to registered triathletes. However, the organizers added, "We have nothing to hide from the truth and were just initially intimidated by Ironman's request."
Multiple calls and e-mails to Ironman went unanswered. We'll update this post if we hear an official response.
This is the second triathlon in the area that has been canceled this year. The DC Triathlon scheduled for June failed to require a permit from the National Park Service for its third annual race and was canceled in March.