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Groups try to muscle in on Ironman action

Ironman has exploded all over the world, with the increased popularity of the multi-sport endurance event. Now, a partnership of four Oregon promotional companies wants to bring an Ironman event to the state. “What we know is Ironman wants a presence on the West Coast,” says Drew Mahalic, executive director of Oregon Sports Authority. “We felt that with the natural resources of Central Oregon — the altitude makes it challenging, the open air space and majesty, the beauty — it really made sense.” The Central Oregon Visitors Association, Oregon Sports Authority and Bend companies Lay It Out Events and G2 Strategic will submit a proposal to the World Triathlon Corp., which runs Ironman, by Jan. 31, 2012. The event would be held in the fall 2013. There are 28 full Ironman events throughout the world, including the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona in October. Others nearby: Couer d’ Alene, Idaho; Penticton, British Columbia; St. George, Utah; Tempe, Ariz. There are also scores of Ironman 70.3 events — half Ironmans — held throughout the world. An Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon. “It’s the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit,” Mahalic says. Ironman events generally draw around 10,000 people, including athletes, support people and spectators. So, attracting an Ironman to Central Oregon would be kind of a big deal. “It’s a marquee event, for sure,” Mahalic adds. “It’s had remarkable results wherever it’s been held. Everybody recognizes the name, it’s got a sense of magic associated with it. Ironman’s done a remarkable job.” G2 Strategic is run by Marshall Glickman, the former Trail Blazers and Portland Family Entertainment executive. “We want to put our best foot forward,” Glickman says. The partners will seek sponsorships for the event, a requisite for the Ironman bid, Mahalic says. “There’s still a long way to go,” he says. “It’s a partnership where we’ve never really worked together, but we’re all very seasoned veterans in the sports and tourism industries.” There are three different options being worked up for locations of the Ironman — meaning a still body of water for swimming, and plenty of smooth road for the bicycle and running portions. It’s assumed that Bend and Redmond would be part of the bid. The partners are banking on support from local resorts and hotels and Bend’s vibrant athletic and culture community to woo the Ironman folks. Aaron Switzer, Lay It Out Events president, thinks there are also challenging route options in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties. “I’m sure we will face plenty of excellent competition,” he says. “But we are optimistic that all of our stakeholders in our community will rally around the opportunity to host an event of this magnitude.”