Will there be any changes to the race if it goes ahead?
We went on to say:-
It is inevitable that when a race gets a new organiser that there will be changes. However, I get the impression from my initial discussions that these will be minimal and mainly to ensure that the event is commercially viable after it has been in limbo for so long.
In addition, there are changes to the Cremorne Gardens environment being made by Shropshire Council which will mean some physical changes will have to take place. I believe that the majority of the changes will actually enhance the event and if the new organiser decides to go ahead it will secure the future of the race for several years to come.
That was written with a different prospective organiser to the one we have secured, but I believe it still holds true.
Everything that led to getting UKTriathlon to organise our race
A week or so later I spoke with Nick Thomas of Ellesmere TriSmart and his wife Karen to sound them out about the possibility of Nick taking over organising the event from Alan Penton. The discussion took place around making the event low key and reducing the fixed expenses to make it viable. Tragically later that week, before he could announce his decision, Nick died on his own birthday whilst swimming the English Channel.
Shortly afterwards Alan Penton spoke with a commercial triathlon company based in West Birmingham who he had worked with before. They were interested in taking over the event but after a month or so realised that they didn't have the resources needed to do a lot of the background work without both buying additional equipment and employing a new member of staff, so they withdrew.
I had already shortlisted a number of possible commercial triathlon organisers, so with the help of Peter Davis (Shropshire Triathlon organiser since 2014) we narrowed it down to the two main ones who covered the North West and North Midlands. Peter sent out a broadcast email to both of these companies asking if they were interested in taking over the organisation and running of the Shropshire Triathlon. After almost three months, nobody had replied to Peter, so I directly contacted one of those on the list (XtraMileEvents).
The only reason I picked the first company over the second was simply because in 2017 they were due to promote four World Championship and two European Championship qualifying events for the British Triathlon Federation at different distances and disciplines (Duathlon & Triathlon). My thought was that as the Shropshire Triathlon had promoted events for the BTF to these high World and European Championship qualifying standards recently they might be interested in us. It was through this initial contact that I found out the original email from Peter had never reached them, presumably due to a technical fault, but after being contacted they were now interested in exploring the situation further.
Due to various problems that first meeting did not actually take place till late February so Peter and I had to take the painful decision that it was too late to organise and promote a viable 2017 Shropshire Triathlon. We had a lot of emails passing backwards and forwards between ourselves and XtraMileEvents discussing the fine detail of the race after which they said they hoped a rejuvenated Shropshire Triathlon would take off in May 2018. They said they had a few early season events to run and were going to be busy until after they were complete, so would have to put us “on hold”.
About a week after we were due to take up correspondence again it was announced in the National Press that XtraMileEvents had been bought out by another commercial triathlon organisation company called Human Race Events. Human Race Events is a subsidiary of Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) which is the company who organise the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España and Tour of California amongst others, so if things had worked out the Shropshire Triathlon would have been in excellent world class company.
However, this news meant that we had to go "on hold" again whilst XtraMileEvents discussed with Human Race the two company calendars and get them to mesh together. It was August when this complex process was eventually complete and XtraMileEvents were finally told by Human Race Events that there were too many events in the overall combined calendar to take on another new race for 2018. One of the XtraMileEvents directors told me that if any events were dropped from their list after the 2018 season they would propose to organise a Shropshire Triathlon in 2019 (if we couldn't find another organisation to take us on in the meantime).
We felt that waiting twelve months for a “maybe” was too much of a risk, so in late August I wrote to the other shortlisted company (UKTriathlon) asking if they would be interested in taking on the Shropshire Triathlon. Vic Bickerton their Event Director and his team were busy away from home organising other events (the South Coast Triathlon and South Coast Half Marathon), so it was not until 1st September before I actually got to talk to Vic
Everything then happened very fast with lots of communications going backwards and forwards between Shropshire Triathlon and UKTriathlon, and two meetings were quickly arranged, both held at The Boathouse followed by a site visit to Cremorne Gardens.
On 11th September Vic and Keith Hancock met me in Ellesmere for a first exploratory meeting and to look at the site facilities. Unfortunately UKTriathlon were fully committed with their Stratford Triathlon for our provisional May 2018 date. Later that day Vic emailed me to ask my opinion on an alternative date they had which fitted into their calendar, but it was in September - would that be a problem? I replied “Our first ever event took place on 20th September 1992, and the next race was also in September so it should be O.K.”. This query was followed up the next day by some technical questions and provisional agreement on the weekend we would use. Two days later Vic took a well earned holiday, but still kept in touch by email.
Whilst Vic was away, Peter and myself found out that the Ellesmere Merefest was planning to run their 2018 event on the day that had been chosen (providing the Merefest funding came in). Peter contacted the Merefest organisers to see if they were able to change to an adjacent weekend, but they obviously had to discuss it with their committee. In the meantime we had to look at more alternative dates in case Merefest were unable to change.
On 26th September Peter and I had a meeting with Vic, Keith, Chris Davies and Zoe Steenson from UKTriathlon at the Boathouse. Peter had to leave straight after the meeting, but the rest of us had a walk around the Cremorne Gardens to discuss how things were done previously and how they could be altered whilst keeping the essential ambiance. Ideas were put forward on ways to make the races involve the spectators more, and also improve things for the competitors whilst keeping expenses down. Everyone was pleased with the potential for improvements. The outcome of that meeting was that everyone would be well prepared and ready for a press announcement and opening of entries once the date was finalised.
On the afternoon of Thursday 28th September Peter informed everyone that if Merefest is able to go ahead again in 2018, the organisers had agreed to move their event a week earlier, so this gave the weekend for all website changes to be prepared, emails prepared and press submissions to be prepared.
We hope that everyone is as pleased as we are that such an illustrious event is going to carry on, albeit with some changes, and hopefully the event will be successful again for many years to come.
Shropshire Triathlon Cycling Co-ordinator since 1992