How community support saved major Yeppoon event
TRIATHLON: The Yeppoon Triathlon Festival will return in 2018, despite an announcement just six weeks ago that this year's event would be the last.
It was with equal measures of excitement and relief that race organiser Glenn Skinner today declared it would go on after a flood of support from the local business and sporting community.
"After announcing six weeks ago that the triathlon festival would not continue, we have had many calls, emails and messages of support," he said.
"It has been fantastic to see so many people recognise the value in the event and what the festival brings to our region.
"I'm truly overwhelmed by the response and it certainly makes you feel good knowing that you have created an event that the community does not want to lose.
"A few people said it was a master stroke calling if off because it really rallied the troops but I can tell you it was not a ploy.
"My business partner Rob Dendle and I were ready to walk away and while I was bitterly disappointed to say it, we legitimately thought the festival was finished."
Skinner and Dendle have since secured two major sponsors and guarantees of countless hours of on-the-ground support that collectively have resuscitated the event.
In 2018, the main event will be a long course triathlon (changing up from the Olympic distance) and it will be held a week earlier to better fit with the state and national triathlon calendar.
Skinner said a number of factors contributed to the October announcement, a major one being the sheer number of man hours he and Dendle had to put into the organisation and staging of the two-day event.
"Another thing was the race was struggling financially with sponsorship. While entries were getting better, we were finding it difficult to get support. We had a lot of businesses saying if they could help they would but that didn't put money in the account," Skinner said.
"The third thing was that a lot of races like this have committees, with multiple people organising them. For the first two years it was just me and this year it was Rob and myself who were basically doing it all."
Skinner said it was devastating to think the festival faced a premature end, especially given it was growing by 30 to 40 participants a year and was injecting close to half a million into the local economy annually.
He revealed that a phone call from Fitzroy Frogs Triathlon Club president Craig McCormack was a big reason the festival would continue.
"He came to us and asked how he and the club could help. He offered to assist with a lot of the volunteering and to help with the timing.
"The offer he made will save us a lot of money and take a lot of work off our hands, and allow Rob and myself to put a greater emphasis into the athlete experience.
"As race organisers we probably weren't visible enough because we were so busy doing the behind-the-scenes stuff.
"We hope now that we can be more hosts of the race rather than the workers of the race."
Saturday, July 28: Kids Aquathlon (allowing for CAP Sports qualifying race); junior development clinic (TBC)
Sunday, July 29: Long course triathlon (2km swim, 80km bike, 20km run); sprint distance race (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run); enticer distance race (300m swim, 10km bike, 2km run)