The 2012 Ironman U.S. Championship, a large part of which will take place in Fort Lee, is just a month away, and the Fort Lee Regional Chamber of Commerce, which has taken on a leading role, is on track for what members hope will be a very successful event for organizers, athletes, local businesses and spectators alike.
Board and executive committee member and co-chair of the Ironman committee for the Chamber of Commerce Craig Weinstein said of the Chamber’s involvement in the first-ever Ironman competition in the New York City-New Jersey metropolitan area, which takes place on August 11, “I think we’re doing great.”
“We’re turning up the jets,” Weinstein said exactly one month before the big event and just after getting out of a meeting with Robert Durando, general manager of the George Washington Bridge.
“They’ve been extremely supportive and cooperative, and they’ve agreed to hang huge banners for us on Hudson Terrace,” Weinstein said. “On the south side and the north side [of the overpass on Hudson Terrace by Bruce Reynolds Boulevard], we’re going to be putting up banners next week.”
Weinstein said in fact that the Chamber plans to put up banners all over town, but that the ones on Hudson Terrace will be the biggest and most visible “because that’s also where the Chamber’s aid station is going to be.”
The Ironman will have aid stations all around the course, providing everything from food, drinks and massages for athletes if they need it, to first aid and even medical treatment provided by on-site doctors.
The local Chamber of Commerce’s aid station, which will have all of these things, will be at Bruce Reynolds Boulevard and Hudson Terrace on the east side of the street just south of the entrance to the Fort Lee Historic Park.
“We will be servicing the runners,” said Weinstein, who will serve as the captain of the aid station, having received training and instruction from Ironman organizers and been in touch with them “on a daily basis.”
The runners the Chamber’s aid station will serve are those coming out of Palisades Interstate Park south of the station on River Road and running north up the hill toward the George Washington Bridge.
Noting that there are 3,000 athletes registered for the event, Weinstein said that by the time those who are still in the race get to that point, they will have already completed the 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson River and the 112-mile bike ride on the Palisades Parkway and have less than 10 miles left in their run.
“They’ll just be ready to go over the George Washington Bridge, so ours is a very important aid station—not so much for the professional athletes because they’re on a mission; they want to finish as quickly as possible—but the amateur athletes,” he said. “They’re going to be really tired, and they’re going to need that last boost to get over the bridge. Once they get over the bridge, they’ll run in New York and finish in the city.”
Weinstein added, “Many of them will just run by, and we’ll give them water or bananas, peanut butter sandwiches—whatever they need quickly—but some will stop for a few minutes.”
Ironman organizers have provided the Chamber with specific instructions, “an actual manual,” according to Weinstein, on how to set up, maintain and take down the aid station to ensure it’s done the right way.
“They have these [competitions] all over the world so they have a set formula,” he said. “They’re very, very experienced about this.”
Weinstein said the Chamber has a “really great spot” to set up their aid station and one “the Ironman people really wanted us to have.”
But beyond providing assistance to the athletes, the Chamber of Commerce wants the event to be a rewarding for area businesses and spectators as well, according to Weinstein.
They will therefore have vendor booths selling food and beverages and will set up bleachers right next to their aid station on Hudson Terrace. There will also be a DJ playing music all day long.
Weinstein said they’re hoping for “a huge turnout” on race day, and called the location “the spot to watch the race” and “the best vantage point,” with cyclists passing by going north and then coming back south, and runners passing by on their way to the north walkway of the George Washington Bridge.
“The Port Authority is keeping the south walkway open for bicyclists and pedestrians to come over the bridge into New Jersey,” Weinstein said. “So when they come over the bridge, we’re going to direct them right to our area where we’re going to have the big gala bash.”
The next step for the Fort Lee Chamber is to sign up 100 volunteers to help man the aid station. The 100 volunteers are an Ironman requirement, according to Weinstein, and they’re still looking.
On Thursday, July 19 at 6 p.m., the Chamber will be hosting a volunteer kickoff event at the Assembly Steak House, one of their sponsors, at 495 Sylvan Ave. in Englewood Cliffs. Weinstein said people who are interested in volunteering can simply stop by and sign up.
“It’s really the official kickoff for the Ironman,” Weinstein said.
Those who would like to volunteer but can’t make it to the Assembly on July 19, can also signup via the Fort Lee Regional Chamber of Commerce’s website or by calling Weinstein at 201-944-0654.
The Chamber is also still seeking more sponsors to join current sponsors Massage at Work, Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services Co., North Jersey Community Bank, Postcards R Us, Costco Wholesale, the DoubleTree by Hilton in Fort Lee, Assembly Steak House and Cafasso’s Fairway Market.
Editor's Note: To watch a video on the Ironman featuring Weinstein, visit TriTrekker.com and click on “Tri Media.”
See the attached PDF or click here for more information on volunteering.