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Port Orchard Triathlon canceled

Facing a lack of runners, kayakers and bicyclists, the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce has canceled what would have been its inaugural Freedom Fighters Challenge next weekend, according to Executive Director Melode Sapp.

“We decided to delay it a year,” Sapp said, explaining that the limited number of contestants who signed up for the event began to worry organizers. “The biggest problem is that there are many other athletic events that day.”

The event was a relay-style triathlon planned by the chamber’s military affairs committee, to be held on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The contest, open to members of all five military branches — Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army and Coast Guard — was designed to takes contestants from South Kitsap Community Park in a 5K foot race down to Port Orchard’s public boat launch, then by kayak around to Manchester, then lastly on a 15K bike race back to the park.

However, Sapp said similar events were scheduled on Sept. 11 in Everett and McChord AFB that drew many of the potential teams the chamber was hoping to attract, which Sapp said she learned about quite by accident.

“I was talking to a woman at Recognition Plus, the trophy shop, and found out about how all the other contracts she had to make trophies for the other events,” Sapp said.

Concerned that the turnout wouldn’t be large enough to justify closing the streets and monopolizing so many community and city resources, Sapp said the chamber decided it would be best to try the event again next year.

“Since we now know how to prepare for one, it should make our next attempt easier,” Sapp said, adding that she considered the whole attempt a “marvelous learning experience.

“Every opportunity is worth it,” Sapp said. “We learned that we need to market the event more extensively, and be very sure to research other events’ schedules in great depth.”

Sapp said although when they began planning the event, the chamber did not know or ever tried to contact many of the most instrumental people for putting on such an event.

“Now we have all of those people in place and willing to work with us again,” Sapp said.

Sapp said she is not certain when the triathalon will be held, but the chamber will still try for a date in fall.

“There isn’t a community event in the Northwest that isn’t trying to squeeze itself into the good weather months of summer,” Sapp said. “We might have better luck in September, and there’s still good weather then.”

Sapp said she was heartened by a recent influx of contestants signing up at the last-minute, and said she told them, “Just keep training, and come back next year.”

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