More than 550 athletes from the United States, Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe will compete in the inaugural Nickel City Triathlon (NCT) tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 in Buffalo.
The race is part of USA Triathlon's six-city Elite Race Series, and this year it has the added distinction of serving as the USA Triathlon Elite National Championship. As such, the race will incorporate a special field of professional triathletes (71 men and 60 women) who will compete for a share of the Elite Race Series' largest purse ($75,000). The race will also help decide which triathletes represent the United States at the 2012 Olympics.
The NCT will also include a sprint-length race and a triathlon for children ages 3 to 12, which is sponsored by the Buffalo Bills and the NFL Play 60 program.
"There is nothing better than a triathlon to promote the Bills and NFL Play 60 initiative," said Mary Owen, Bills executive vice president of strategic planning.
Owen, who will also be a participant in the race early Sunday morning, was impressed with the way that Buffalo came together to plan this national event.
"It's so amazing that Buffalo is doing this," said Owen. "The Bills are proud to be a part of promoting this great community event, and sharing the important message of how participating in triathlons like this is a fun form of exercise."
"The Nickel City Triathlon is excited to partner with the Buffalo Bills and the NFL Play 60 program," said Dan Horan, director of Eclipse Multi-Sport. "This world-class event is attracting champion triathletes to Buffalo, while promoting an active lifestyle for families in our great community."
In addition to Owen and Horan, speakers at the inaugural Nickel City Triathlon press event held at Gallagher Beach today included Mayor Byron Brown, Lynn Marinelli, Erie County legislator, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Visit Buffalo Niagara president and CEO, Jeff Dyrek, USA Triathlon national events director, and Hunter Kemper, top-ranked American & three-time Olympic triathlete.
The race field will feature big names, including top-ranked American and three-time Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper, as well as Helen Jenkins, Marc Jenkins, Gwen Jorgensen and teenage phenom Hunter Lussi.
The race will take place at Gallagher Beach on Lake Erie and throughout South Buffalo, including Fuhrmann Boulevard, Tift St., Hopkins St. and Park Drive. The race features a spectator-friendly layout, as both the bike and run legs will take place on multi-loop courses, allowing fans to see each athlete several times.
The race schedule for Saturday, Sept. 24:
o 7 a.m. – Olympic Distance: 1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike and 10 kilometer run
o 11 a.m. – Female Elite National Championship (closed to public registration): 1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike and 10 kilometer run
o 2 p.m. – Male Elite National Championship (closed to public registration): 1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike and 10 kilometer run
The race schedule for Sunday, Sept. 25:
o 7 a.m. – Sprint: 750 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike and 5 kilometer run
o 10 a.m. – Buffalo Bills NFL Play 60 Kids Tri: 50 meter swim, 1 mile bike, 1/4 mile runAthletes can register for the race online at nickelcitytriathlon.com through tonight, Friday, Sept. 23 at 11:59 p.m. or in-person on race day.
The bid process to bring this event to Buffalo involved a partnership between Eclipse Multi-Sport and the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission, a subsidiary of Visit Buffalo Niagara. Over the course of 18 months, the two organizations created a bid packet; held site visits and meetings with USA Triathlon; and worked closely with officials from the City of Buffalo and the County of Erie. The NCT will also be a part of the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series in 2012 and 2013.
"We are excited to be here for a long-term relationship and appreciate all the support," said Dyrek. "There will be lots of Olympians here and it's going to be a great weekend. We look forward to it."
Mayor Brown mentioned the positive economic impact the event will have on the community and noted that Buffalo was one of only six cities in the country chosen for this event.
"The city has worked hard to support and make sure this is a great event for USA Triathlon," said Brown. "We want them to come back again, and show our visitors what a great place the Buffalo-Niagara region is."
The Buffalo Bills and the NFL PLay 60 program are one of many local sponsors to help with the event. For more information, visit nickelcitytriathlon.com.