View of Buck Island from East End, St. Croix, USVI
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Ironman Triathlon - Bike Staging Area

Many of our readers have asked why the Ironman St. Croix is coming to an end this year. We reached out to Race Director Tom Guthrie to get the official answer.

What started as the ‘America’s Paradise Triathlon’ 29 years ago officially became the Ironman St. Croix 70.3 race in 2001 when it became a sanctioned Ironman course. The race became a popular one due to the beauty and difficulty of the course, known by triathletes as ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and the fact that the race offered qualifying spots for the Ironman World Championships race in Kailua-Kona. When the Ironman company moved the qualifying slots to another race,  the number of participants began to steadily decline.    

According to Tom, the growth of the Ironman franchise worldwide has given potential competitors more race options to choose from.  When the St. Croix race began in 1988, there were less than 10 Ironman races in the world. Now, there are 200 Ironman races alone, three of which are scheduled on the same day as the St. Croix race. There was an Ironman in Puerto Rico six weeks ago, as well as a the Pro Championships the day before our race. Also, due to our remote location on St. Croix, we can no longer compete for the attendance when there are so many other races a person can choose from without the expense and distance of coming to St. Croix.

Tom is most proud of the track record of 28 previous races executed safely and efficiently, which defies the odds.  Every Ironman race in the U.S. is run by a paid staff of 40 Ironman employees, while on St. Croix, the number of paid Ironman employees has always been ZERO.  On St. Croix, this has been the people’s race!  There are 1,000 volunteers doing the work flawlessly, many of whom have volunteered every single year for the past 2+ decades. There is no paid staff.  A few local businesses and individuals step up as sponsors, often with donated supplies. Several government agencies like the Police Department and the Department of Public Works have been incredible supporters of the event as well.  We have 100% cooperation from so many key people and government offices that the race has endured for 28 years because of the people, and because it does NOT fit the mold.   

St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Overall, St. Croix residents are sad that this is final year for the Ironman, but all good things must come to an end.  It was Tom’s decision to make 2017 the last year with Ironman – wanting to finish on a positive note after a remarkable 29 year span.  As most of us residents know, getting even simple tasks accomplished can be difficult at times, so it’s quite incredible it has not only survived but thrived for as long as it has.  According to Tom, if we approached Ironman about having a race on St. Croix now (as a new event), it would never be able to get off the ground.   And yet, it has worked because of how unique it is, and because the community supported it.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to Race Director Tom Guthrie, along with the many volunteers, sponsors, participating government agencies, and the St. Croix community at large for making this event successful for so many years!

– Wendy Solomon & Jennie Ogden

Editor’s Note: There are no current plans to continue to race without the Ironman name.  However, many local triathletes, residents, visitors and competitors are interested in exploring other avenues to continue the triathlon in some way.   If this is a conversation you’d like to be a part of, feel free to email us (info @ gotostcroix . com ) with “Triathlon Ideas” as the subject line, and we will be sure to pass your ideas and feedback on to be considered.

 

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