TRAVERSE CITY — Everyone’s racing to get 2020 over with.
But many of those folks weren’t able to participate in the normal races, as the area’s economy saw the loss of millions of dollars in tourism from the COVID-19 cancellation of big events such as the Bayshore Marathon, Iceman Cometh Challenge, TC IRONMAN, Festival of Races and the AuSable River Canoe Marathon.
The pandemic already claimed the 2021 North American Vasa and forced the 2021 White Pine Stampede to go virtual as well.
The cancellation of so many large-scale racing events is the Record-Eagle’s No. 2 local sports story of 2020.
The Bayshore Marathon snapped a streak of running every year in Traverse City since 1983.
“A lot of people just want to donate the money and start looking forward to next year,” race director Lisa Taylor said at the time. “If this is the trend, we’ll maybe be successful at maintaining our budget for next year.”
The IRONMAN 70.3, which made its Traverse City debut in 2019, was called off in June before its August event that draws competitors from across the globe.
“Based on the mandate from the Traverse City Tourism and the City of Traverse City in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City triathlon, originally scheduled for August 30 cannot take place in 2020,” a press release from the Ironman race said.
The IRONMAN race has since moved to Frankfort instead of Traverse City.
The Nov. 7 Iceman Cometh Challenge was canceled in August.
“I think the racers were really looking at this as the last thing on the calendar,” said Cody Sovis, Race Director for the Iceman. “It was so much later in the year that if anything was gonna work ... late October or November would be the safe time to have an event like this.”
Many races offered pre-paid competitors the option of transferring their 2020 fees to the 2021 events or donating them to help keep the races on stable financial ground.
Iceman cuts through state-managed trails on its 30-mile course from Kalkaska to Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City, requiring permits from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. National Cherry Festival executive director Kat Paye said the DNR wasn’t issuing permits for events that included more than 250 participants.
The Detroit Red Wings also moved training camp back to Detroit for a year and cancelled the NHL Prospect Tournament, both events typically held in Traverse City.