Organizers cancel Steel Lake women's triathlon

An event that brought hundreds of women to Federal Way won’t take place this year. Organizers of the U.S. Women’s Triathlon at Steel Lake Park informed city officials earlier this year that they are taking at least a one-year break from hosting the event that has taken place for the last five summers.

The U.S. Women’s Triathlon was set to take place at Steel Lake Park on Sept. 13. Last year’s event drew approximately 700 women to Federal Way.

“They called and said they have to pull out,” said Patrick Doherty, the city’s economic development director. “It just kind of blew up on them.”

The national organizers of the triathlon came to the city of Federal Way in January and asked if the event could be moved to late June at Steel Lake Park.

“The reasons were because they weren’t really seeing the growth they should see,” Doherty said. “And there were two other major athletic events in the area that were taking a lot of women away.”

The largest competing event is the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Walk for the Cure, which is scheduled to be held in Seattle Sept. 11-13. There is also the Black Hills Triathlon set to take place Sept. 12 at Millersyvania State Park in the Olympia area.

“They thought there was too much competition,” Doherty said. “And being at the end of the summer, they thought it was just a clean-up event. They thought it would be better in June.”

With that information in hand, Federal Way officials attempted to juggle their schedules to accommodate the late June date officials from the U.S. Triathlon organization wanted.

“It was a little bit untimely,” Doherty said. “We already had our calendar going. But we said, ‘OK, fine,’ and we made the date work by juggling stuff and making some people mad.”

Doherty and other city officials cleared the last June date to host the triathlon at Steel Lake Park, but were informed by the U.S. Triathlon Series that they wouldn’t be hosting a race in Federal this summer.

“They called and said they have to pull out,” Doherty said.

The city had budgeted $13,500 for this year’s race and are hoping to bring the event back next summer.

“Kind of disappointing for this year,” Doherty said. “But hopefully we can come back on the line for next year.”

The Federal Way race had been one of a four races in the U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series. This year, the series will include races in the Chicago area, Las Vegas and San Diego.

The race offered athletes a choice of two different distances: The Sprint Competition (.75-kilometer swim, 19.5k bike, and 6.5k run, completed as an individual or relay team), and the SuperSprint Competition (.375k swim, 13k bike, and 3.4k run).

The Federal Way race had drawn rave reviews from fans and athletes because it featured one venue that is able to house transition areas for all three events —— swim, bike and run —— along with the finish line at Steel Lake Park. That is different from a lot of the other large triathlons around the country.

A portion of the proceeds from the U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series benefited The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Inc. (OCRF), which is devoted to the formulation of early diagnostic treatment programs and research toward the ultimate conquest of ovarian cancer.

To date, over $16,000 has been raised for OCRF by participants of the Federal Way event, with over $140,000 raised by all series competitors.

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