CAMBRIDGE – Gerry Boyle, race director for the recent Ironman Maryland event, took a few moments at the recent County Council meeting to sum up the success of the event, and to thank the county and local communities involved.
“We have become all the talk of the triathlon world, and a lot of people are very curious (about Cambridge),” said Mr. Boyle. “I have seen nothing on Facebook or other social media sites, or from any of the athletes, other than compliments. We had an amazing weekend of weather, everything (good) fell into our laps. There was a lot of unknowns. The cannon went off at ten of seven on Saturday morning, and the last runners crossed the finish line at 11:46 on Saturday night — we were early, it could have been midnight.”
Mr. Boyle has a long history with the organization and logistics of the Eagleman triathlon, and he was a natural choice as Race Director of the inaugural Ironman Maryland. Mr. Boyle made sure everything was in place, and all the volunteers were ready, when the Ironman organization rolled into town before the event. All indications since that day point to a resounding success for a first-year event.
“We wanted to know if our plans would come to fruition,” Mr. Boyle told the County Council. “I believe they did. I hope the inconveniences that were projected were minimal. Within the downtown area, the West End area and High Street, the impression we get is that it was well received. People were very accepting, more than accepting. The community certainly got behind the athletes and it turned out to be an amazing evening. People had a great time, and the athletes left here, almost to a person, and there were 1,500 of them, saying this was one of the most hospitable communities that they’ve ever been in. From every part of the course, whether it was the run or the bike, their statements and comments were nothing less than tremendously gratifying. And I think we have set ourselves up for something that’s going to be pretty amazing in the future.
“I would like to offer my personal thanks to a number of agencies. This is not just myself that did this. We had over 1,500 volunteers over a three-day period. We had to have more (volunteer) shirts made over Thursday and Friday because we ran out of t-shirts for volunteers. We probably made 2,000, and we were still short. So, if you would like to sign up for next year, we’ll be opening up our online registration soon for next year’s race.”
Mr. Boyle was adamant when he pointed out that his group would not take all the credit.
“There were a lot of other agencies involved,” he said, “from Emergency Management, to Public Works, the Sheriff’s office, and a particular word of appreciation from me to the Tourism Department for helping to raise for Ironclub Maryland the $100,000 it needed (to secure the event), and that was an amazing success.”
A number of organizations in the region have already seen a direct benefit from the race, in the form of grants and donations from the Ironman Foundation, a charitable arm of the Ironman organization. The community was given $45,000 in total from the Ironman Foundation — organizations who provided volunteers, such as the Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, high school teams, fire departments and church groups benefitted, as well as the YMCA on Talbot Avenue, which was awarded a $10,000 grant to assist in their plans to replace the ceiling in the gymnasium.
“Forty-five thousand dollars,” Councilman Ricky Travers said, holding up a symbolic bank check, “that’s a lot of money that the fire companies didn’t have to fundraise, Boy Scout troops, athletic boosters, the YMCA, all these people who helped, saved money for their organizations. That’s good, that’s more money back into the community. I think it was a huge plus for us, and I’m very pleased with how it went off.”
“The event itself was beyond what I ever could have imagined it would be,” said Dorchester County Tourism Director Amanda Fenstermaker. “In terms of the economic impact that you could see, and the enthusiasm of the athletes, the outpouring of support from the community for the race in general. I’m not sure I really remember a time when everything worked so nicely toward a common goal.”
Mr. Boyle presented the council with the finish line tape from the first female finisher, Lauren Capone, along with a selection of Ironman souvenirs from the event.
“We’re looking forward to the race next year. Ironman is scheduled for Oct. 3,” Mr. Boyle said. “We moved to a different date next year because this year there were three other Ironman races on our date, and logistically it is almost impossible to do that, so we’ve been moved to the third of October. We’re looking forward to an amazing race next year on Oct. 3, and of course we have Eagleman coming up before that on June 4.
“My thanks to everyone in the County at all levels,” Mr. Boyle said, summing up. “From the County Commissioners to all the departments. We couldn’t do this without everyone being behind it. I have a passion for it, you know that. I can make the plans, but it takes other people to put them into effect. Thank you for all your support.”