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Fontana, Bay becoming hot spot for triathletes



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Triathletes make their way through Williams Bay last year during the Lake Geneva Triathlon.

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December 14, 2011 | 07:53 AM
FONTANA — For those who love to swim, bike and run, the west end of Geneva Lake might become a mecca for triathlons.

In 2012, at least three triathlons are being proposed in the area, two on the same weekend in September and one in early June.

The Lake Geneva Triathlon is slated for Sept. 8, 2012. The race begins and ends on the shore of Williams Bay. The Lake Geneva Triathlon has been held in the area for more than 20 years, but it recently moved from Fontana to Williams Bay.

The next day, a few miles down the road, another triathlon is being proposed on the shore of the Fontana beach by local resident John Palmer.

Palmer proposed the idea earlier in the year because he said he wanted to see a triathlon return to his hometown.

Palmer proposed holding the triathlon in conjunction with the village's Pig In The Park event. Palmer's idea was to include a ticket to the event as part of the package to the Triathlon, which would help guarantee a certain turnout to the village fundraising event.

Earlier in the season, Russel Larson, of Multisport Event Management Partners, LLC, is planning a June 3 triathlon, which will begin and end on the shore of Fontana's beach.

Larson said the Geneva Lake area is a perfect community for this type of event because of its proximity to the Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee areas. He also said the shores of the beach, landscapes on the roads and the rolling hills on the outskirts of the community make it a scenically pleasing place for a triathlon.

"There was really an untapped gem of a community, not just of Fontana, but the area surrounding it as well," Larson said.

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Too many triathlons?

On Dec. 12, Palmer submitted a letter asking the board not to approve the triathlon, which Larson was proposing.

"Since the average cost of a triathlon is around $100 triathletes tend to pick two or three races a year," Palmer wrote. "They would pick one or the other — not both. This would be detrimental to the event as it tries to get established."

Larson said he believes two events in the village can be successful, especially considering the fact that one will be held early in the season and the other later in the year.

Larson said he believes more triathletes will pick between the new triathlon being proposed by Palmer and the Lake Geneva Triathlon, which are being held in the same weekend.

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"If any one of the (Triathlons) is not going to be a viable entity or event, the consumers will make that decision," Larson said.

Larson added that, "I personally see it as problematic to have two separate events on two consecutive days."

Originally, Palmer proposed having his triathlon the same date as the Lake Geneva Triathlon. However, the Water Safety Patrol wrote a letter to the village expressing concerns that its resources would be spread too thin if that were to occur.

"Finally, we are also concerned about 'blocking off' two busy areas of the lake at the same time," Water Safety Patrol Director Ted Pankau wrote. "If a large portion of both Williams Bay and Fontana are blocked off at the same time, it could create some additional challenges in boat traffic management."

Larson said the layout of the three races will likely be similar, which was another concern raised by Palmer.

"Honestly, logistically, there is a relatively small number of intersecting county or rural roads opportunities where you can get the distance necessary with the least amount of impact to a larger population," Larson said.

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