Hawrelak Park played host to both the World Triathlon Series and the Tour of Alberta on Sunday, showcasing the river valley gem to thousands around the world.
“It all sort of started last year where we said – we’re on the same weekend. Let’s not market against each other, let’s market collectively,” said Tour of Alberta CEO Duane Vienneau. “So we started Race Week Edmonton and this year we said, ‘let’s take it one step further.’”
Having two major international sporting events share a venue meant organizers had to work together, as well as work-around each other. Set-up was complicated, as each group has its own set of staff, volunteers and athletes.
“We’ve been doing it for so many years we have our set-up pretty much down-pat, so bringing in the tour meant we had to change some things,” Sheila O’Kelly, general manager of World Triathlon Edmonton, explained. “We had to change our schedule a bit.”
The triathlon used the park for the majority of the weekend – up until the last race finished on Sunday afternoon. Then it was time for the Tour of Alberta to swap in. The fourth leg of the cycling event started around 5 p.m.
“It’s just going to be a bit of a tight turnover because as soon as their event is over, we need to get our event up and running,” Vinneau said.
But organizers also hoped sharing a venue would encourage fans to spend their whole day at Hawrelak – supporting both sports.
“Come for both events,” O’Kelly said. “Come try the triathlon and stay for the tour. That’s the whole thing.”
The athletes appreciate the larger crowds – especially Edmonton triathlete Hayley Basterash.
“People were cheering me on because they knew I was from Alberta – it’s really nice to have that home-course advantage.”
The shared venue also gives fans like Murray Sudgen a chance to volunteer for two events, instead of one.
“I’d have to pick and choose. I did that last year,” he said.