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Safety concerns quash tri, du races

July 30, 2014 - Athletes' hopes of putting their training to the test at the 10th annual Village Tri and Du are dashed this year's event is cancelled.

"We hate to make a decision like that, but we won't put athletes and residents at risk," said Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle. "We have to think of the big picture."

Officials with the township and City of the Village of Clarkston pulled the plug on the Aug. 10 triathlon (formerly the Craig Greenfield), based on timeliness and inaccuracies in the organizer's application, and lack of required back-up documents.

About 300 athletes were expected in the events, which would have included an 800-meter swim in Deer Lake, 16-mile bike ride, and 4.4-mile run in the triathon; duathlon with 1.8-mile run, 16-mile bike ride, and a another 4.4-mile run; and Sprint Aquabike, with an 800-meter swim and 16 miles on the bike.

"Both communities agree that they do not have enough information or enough time to plan for an event of this magnitude that would maintain the health, safety and welfare of their residents," Kittle said in a press release. "The township and city would like to thank event participants and all attendees who support this worthwhile cause."

The race management company, 3-Disciplines (3D), did not provide adequate plans to coordinate with sheriff's deputies, the supervisor said.

The township and city created a new special event application procedure this year to address the increasing number of requests for road closures for running and cycling events.

"There have been complaints by local residents, as well as concerns by the fire department," Kittle said, Monday.

The new application process addresses public safety issues related to the large amount of people who participate along with residents on the route.

"Over the past few years, more special event organizers have come in and run their event with little or no provisions for public safety or the consideration of local residents," Kittle said.

"The township is not willing to allow these promotional companies to dictate how they use public streets putting both participants and residents at risk."

Applications are reviewed by township and city safety and parks departments. The application submitted by 3D was denied by the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, Independence Township Parks and Recreation Department, and City of the Village of Clarkston for failing to comply with safety requirements and other deficiencies.

The new safety provisions were communicated to 3D multiple times with no response, Kittle said.

"When safety deficiencies are communicated to an applicant, we expect to hear back within a week or two with revised plans," he said. "We are more than willing to bend-over-backwards to accommodate applicants who are willing to meet township requirements. This was not the case in this situation."

They would host the event in 2015 if 3D can meet application requirements, he said.

This year's Clarkston State Bank Half Marathon, set for Nov. 9, was moved from downtown Clarkston and Independence Township to backroads and trails in and around Independence Oaks County Park due in part to safety concerns.

A call and email to 3D for comment were not returned.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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