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Coeur d'Alene City Council votes in favor of replacing half-Ironman event with full triathlon in 2023

The motion passed by a vote of 5-1. Councilmember Dan Gookin objected to the motion, citing "Ironman fatigue."

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — During Tuesday night's meeting, Coeur d'Alene City Council voted in favor of replacing the half-Ironman with the full triathlon next year.

The motion passed by a vote of 5-1. Councilmember Dan Gookin objected to the motion, citing "Ironman fatigue" and criticizing the event as a "$650 million international corporation owned by the Chinese."

"I also find it disturbing that we're celebrating people coming here who are making $247,000 a year when the average Coeur d'Alene citizen makes $200,000 less than that," Gookin said.

Britt Bachtel-Browning and Courtney Schwagler at North Idaho Sports Commission (NISC) presented city council with an extensive presentation on the economic benfits of a full-Ironman. For a full race, NISC estimates that there will be a $11-$13 million benefit for the region over the course of the event. 

In addition, NISC said a full-Ironman would serve as a great example for kids in Coeur d'Alene, showing how hard work and dedication can help them achieve their goals. A full race would also give an opportunity for a pro race, bringing more high-profile athletes to the area.

Preparations are already underway for the half-Ironman happening this Sunday, June 26. Although recent Ironman events in Coeur d'Alene have seen a decline in participants, demand for a full triathlon returned.

"As long as we're going to have an Ironman every year, which we seem to have either or full or a half, I'd go for the full," Coeur d'Alene resident Ronnee McGee said. "The full gives us more income, folks stay longer so they spend more. The setup is the same, the course is the same it's just twice as long. But to me, it's a double benefit if we can have the full as opposed to the half-Ironman."

The course for the full triathlon would remain the same, but participants would essentially run the half-Ironman course twice. The race itself is about 140.6 miles. The duration of the event will be much longer than the half-Ironman.

Ironman started in Coeur d'Alene in 2003 and was a huge hit. A half-Ironman was added in 2016 and held again in 2017 alongside the full race. The city ended the contract for the full Ironman in 2017 due to declining participation from both athletes and volunteers. However, it made a return last year.

“We are so thrilled to see such an appetite for full-distance triathlon racing in Coeur d’Alene,” said Tim Brosious, Northwest Regional Director for The IRONMAN Group. “With the longstanding history Coeur d’Alene has built within the triathlon community over the years, we know our athletes will be excited to once again race 140.6 miles across Northern Idaho's best terrain on offer.”

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