Shawn Stratton, chair of the Paradise Triathlon organizing committee, would have liked to tackle the course of his own creation this Sunday. But once the event, in its second year, had reached 115 registered competitors, Stratton gave up on the idea.
The first of four events in the Capital Subaru Newfoundland Triathlon Series (St. John's, Corner Brook and Carbonear host the remaining races), the Paradise Triathlon had all 200 spots filled weeks ago.
Stratton figures it's the result of an aggressive marketing campaign conducted the month before the start of registration on Jan. 1.
"We figured we'd get a lot of the New Year's resolution people - and early-bird discounted registration," he said. "It was a combination of discounts and the urgency created by the unknown because there had never been a sell-out before."
On race day, taking into consideration schedule conflicts and the like, Stratton expects around 145 of the 200 registrants to compete. Considering the Paradise race had just 92 entrants last year and the 25th running of the St. John's Triathlon attracted 157 combined for both the Olympic and Sprint events, it speaks volumes about how far Stratton and the organizing committee have come in a short period of time.
"I think the committee did a really good job in putting off a first-time race. We did it all on our credit cards, hoping we would be able to pay ourselves back. But at the same time, people came away from it thinking it didn't seem like a budget event at all," said Stratton.
This year, aided by the experience from the inaugural event, corporate sponsorship from Capital Subaru, P.F. Collins and G.J. Cahill, assistance and security from the Rovers Search and Rescue, and the full support of the town of Paradise, Stratton expects this year's triathlon will be anything but a budget event.
With the help of sponsorship dollars, the committee is introducing race-chip timing such is used in most road races and the St. John's Triathlon.
"That's a huge help because timing is so hard in these triathlons," Stratton explains.
"There's three different events, so people want their splits and you're trying to get awards done and do up all the math."
After issues with the bike route last year - a 21-kilometre three-lap loop going from Octagon Pond to the TCH and back again - and faced with problems created by road expansion work being completed near the race start and finish location, organizers formulated a plan B for 2010 that eventually became plan A. The new course, four klicks longer at 25-km, sends bikers down Topsail Road to the TCH onto the Conception Bay bypass road to Fowler's road and back again.
"There's a nice hill coming back off Fowler's Road," Stratton says. "People said, 'gee, you changed it and put a hill in.' Well, hills don't kill people, intersections do."
And without being able to avoid all the intersections along the bike course, Stratton and the organizing committee set about establishing traffic controls.
"We've come up with these risk management plans, with descriptions of the intersections and (outlines of) what to do that we can give to our trained flag people.
"We're trying to set the bar in terms of risk management for these races."
Another slight change this year sees the transition area - swim to bike and bike to run - being moved to near the new town hall to accommodate the rise in registration numbers. It means the dash from Octagon Pond to the bike racks will be a little longer than normal - some 430-metres behind the ACAN Windows building to be exact - but nothing out of the ordinary, says Stratton.
The race starts 8 a.m., and Stratton says spectators are more than welcome. Parking is available at ACAN.
"The best place to see the action is at the Octagon Pond dock and the Town Hall parking lot," says Stratton, a triathlete since his teen years.
"Many triathletes, including me when I was 14, are inspired to take up the sport after watching a race."