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Race Result

Racer: Dan Frost
Race: Valdese Triathlon
Date: Saturday, March 5, 2005
Location: Valdese, NC
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Comment: Postponed based on the five-day weather outlook???

Race Report:

On Monday, February 28, the race management of the Valdese (NC) Triathlon announced "Due to the weekend weather forecasts for Valdese, Set-Up, Inc. and the Town of Valdese have made the decision to postpone the Valdese Triathlon."

The race has been rescheduled, for this year and future years, for the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.

What follows below is the complete e-mail exchange (edited for spelling), including messages from Paul Sullivan (Event Director), Jeremey Davis (Set-Up, Inc.), Jeff Morse (Town Manager of Valdese), and myself.

I post this thread of messages solely as a matter of insight.

Best wishes,
- Frosty



Due to the weekend weather forecasts for Valdese, Set-Up, Inc. and the Town of Valdese have made the decision to postpone the Valdese Triathlon. The race will be rescheduled for Memorial Day Weekend. The new race date is Saturday May 28, 2005 with a 9AM start time.

The Town of Valdese is offering full refunds to anyone who cannot make it to the new race date. If you desire a refund, please go to the Valdese race page and fill out our new refund request form.

We all regret having to make this decision but feel it is in the best interest of everyone to keep the event safe and fun.

If you have any questions please email the race director, Paul Sullivan, at winskins@earthlink.net


Thank you for your message regarding the postponement of the Valdese Triathlon.

I have to say that I'm disappointed in your decision and strongly believe that it was a premature decision if it was based on the weather forecast. Forecasts five days out are reflective of general indications and much can change. Even so, the National Weather Service forecasts that I see for Saturday call for "Partly Cloudy and breezy...highs around 50.", which was similar to the weather for the 2004 event.

Indeed, I was looking very forward to making the trip again to Valdese this year. I'm sorry that I will be unable to attend the rescheduled event on Memorial Day weekend due to an existing obligation, and will be seeking a refund.

Best wishes to a successful event in May.

- Dan Frost
Arlington VA



Please be sure to use the refund request link on the Valdese race page.

As for the decision to postpone, I think folks would rather have this decision made on Monday rather than waiting and then making it on Thursday. I think Jeff and Paul made the right choice as the weather forecasts I see call for a low of 30, high of 47 with rain and snow on Saturday. No one wants to get out of an 80-degree pool and onto a bike in a 30-degree rain/snow mix.

Sorry you can't make the new date. We will get the refund out to you once we get the request via the link on the web site.



Dan, I understand your point...I actually didn't make the call...Jeff, the town manager, talked with the National Weather service people...and they recommended that we postpone the event...Sorry about that, just want to make sure we don't jeopardize the safety of everyone, and also give enough heads up to everyone so they know...thank you for signing up...I hope you can make it next year...

Take care,
Paul Sullivan


Jeremey & Paul,

Thank you both for your rapid replies to my message.

I certainly have no qualms with any race management decision, especially concerning safety, since that is what race management is supposed to do. I accept your decision for a postponement. It is the decision-making process and the weather basis for this decision that I do question.

I concur with Jeremey's statement that "no one wants to get out of a 80-degree pool and onto a bike in a 30-degree rain/snow mix." Yet, we do disagree about the timing of the weather call and his opinion that "I think folks would rather have this decision made on Monday rather than waiting and then making it on Thursday." If we were talking about the possibility of a destructive hurricane on Saturday, I'd understand a postponement decision now. A chance of rain/snow is significantly different in this regard. I believe that a much better weather judgment would be made on Wed/Thu...especially since it appears that we are getting different information from the same source (NWS)...they tell you snow/rain and they tell me partly cloudy.

Perhaps there are some other underlying reasons besides (or associated with) the weather that is a factor for race management, and I would understand if that is the case. It's the appearance that this postponement is based solely on a five-day outlook of a potential for precipitation, and that is not a good appearance in my mind.

With regard to "next year", thank you for the invitation. I am in the active-duty military and am due for a transcontinental reassignment in the next year, so I do not expect to be in the area. Even if I do stay in this area, the decision-making process exhibited here would be a factor in choosing whether to return to this race or others affiliated with the Endurance Magazine series or Set-Up, Inc.

Again, best wishes for a great event in May and in the future years. I did enjoy my experience last year in Valdese and hope that, despite this postponement, it will continue to be a successful event and a matter of pride to the community.

- Dan Frost, Arlington VA


Mr. Frost...Thank you for your email...

Please understand that this decision was not made without pulling our hair out...Four of us sat and agonized about the call and went on gut instinct...Combined we all 4 have been doing tris roughly 10 years each and having personally done just over 100 tris myself...I have been through some interesting races as a participant and race organizer...and didn't want to be known as the race or race director that didn't make the call rather it's too early or to late...I want to be know as the race and race director that made the call in looking after my participants, my volunteers, and my sponsors...all of which make the race possible...

Please be advised that since you did the race last year, on the bike course you have two bridges that you cross twice…or a total of 4 crossings over I-40...Up here in the foothills, when it's anywhere near freezing and rainy or has been raining they slightly freeze...On top of this, add the 12 hills that you have to descend and the 12 hills that you climb with 6 of those hills with very tight right or left hand turns, this has road rash spelled all over it...being a Development race with more then 50% of my participants first timers and most of them never been on a bike before, this spells carnage...Not a pretty sight nor something to want to come back to.....

NO one knows for sure what we will have on Saturday…until that day arrives...but what we do know is that the Valdese race will not be the cause of someone going to the hospital or not having a pleasant experience...

In making this decision, we hope that people will look at the call from the standpoint of the glass being half full and not half empty and see the whole picture...as a participant, I never saw things from a safety standpoint...I was there to compete and nothing else...from a race director standpoint, you instinctively see things from a security and safety stand point...It's only human nature...You are responsible for these people's safety...And you take personal....

In closing...I leave you with this thought...In the year 2002 I was in the first Ironman Utah..Race month was May...The day before the race, it was 75 degrees and sunny with no wind....We got up that morning and it was 30 degrees with 50 mile winds.....Ironman North America decided not to cancel the race and went ahead with normal plans......Thinking, heck, 2000 triathletes are here from all over the country and have paid all this money and have spent all this time training, they will be ok.....The only problem is the lake in Provo was in a valley....The winds would swoop down and created 6-10 swells in the lake making it impossible to see....No one could hear the directions coming from the helicopter as you were treading water with 2000 people, much less the cannon starting the race...The helicopter finally announced swim back to shore, swim cancelled...I some how made it back, and noticed that I was 2 miles down shore from where I had started the swim.......After making my way to the swim start again on a Sunday in Provo, as people were heading to church and here 2000 triathletes are walking through these neighborhoods with wet suits on......All we could hear was a cry from a women on shore......HER HUSBAND, A VETERAN OF 5 IRONMANS HAD DROWNED IN THE SWIM AND THEY HAD JUST PULLED HIS BODY FROM THE LAKE ONTO SHORE....

After the drowning, the first ever Utah IM become a half IM duathlon...Lesson learned here was, go on instinct and make a call...and don't ever error on the side of safety of the participants...If so, your race won't be around long....

Maybe now you will understand why we made the decision, be it too early or not...

There is no longer a half or full IM in Utah....

This is not an in your face email...I did Bridge 2 Bridge last year after it was cancelled and rescheduled 2 months later due to the hurricane...so I know what you are going through....Just a description of what we have to go through in making these decisions and the experience that we have in making those decisions....I hope that you will be able to do another Set-Up event......If so, my name is Paul Sullivan, and I will be happy to speak with you in person shall we meet....

Be safe and good luck with your new assignment in the Military....

Paul Sullivan


Mr. Frost: My name is Jeff Morse and I am the Town Manager of Valdese. I do appreciate your disappointment concerning our need to cancel the race due to the weather forecast. We had over 30 citizens of Valdese who have been training for the past two months to complete their first Tri. We had over 180 pre registered as of Monday who were planning to come to Valdese. The decision to cancel this race was solely based on their safety. After conferring with the National Weather Service and in consultation with Sonni Dyer, Paul Sullivan, and Jeremey Davis with Set-up, Inc., we unanimously agreed that the decision to postpone on Monday was in everyone’s best interest. Our decision was based on the following: 1. An early call would give everyone involved adequate notice of the cancellation. 2. Safety was our first consideration. The points that Paul made in an earlier e-mail to you should address the safety issue.

As the Town Manager of Valdese I have the responsibility of making sure that the safety of the participants must be addressed first. In this case the chance of an unsafe environment for over 250 individuals required me to make this early call. We were fortunate that Set-Up, Inc. had an open date for us to use. I regret that you will not be able to attend this year. Hopefully we will see you next year. Jeff Morse



Thank you both for your recent messages. I was pleasantly surprised to receive them. Thank you, as well, for listening to my concerns regarding the early decision to postpone the 2005 Valdese Triathlon.

I wish to clarify that my only disagreement with the event management’s decision to postpone the event regards the timing of the decision. I understand well enough that an event management’s decision to postpone or cancel an event is management’s option of last resort. That is why I did not understand how this option was exercised based on information (i.e. a five-day weather forecast) that is marginally reliable.

In no way do I question the decision itself, based on your passionate concern for the safety of the participants. I also applaud your concern about adequately notifying the participants in a timely manner about changes to the status or format of an event. As the City Manager has stated that these were the two elements that based the decision made by event management on Monday, it is my understanding that a postponement notification threshold had been reached and the best information available suggested an unacceptable probability of unacceptable risk.

My only suggestion to the event management is that the postponement notification threshold was reached too early. A threshold of Thursday morning, or perhaps Wednesday, would have allowed for a postponement decision to be based on weather forecasts of significantly greater reliability while still allowing an opportunity for timely participant notification.

With no reservations, my desire is that the 2005 Valdese Triathlon, and future Valdese Triathlons, will be successful, enjoyable, and safe. I am hopeful that the event’s management will overcome the new challenges that come with the postponement.

Best wishes,
Dan Frost
Arlington VA



Thanks for the message. I am glad you understand our decision, even if you question the timing of it. To address that: we have received many emails thanking us for a timely decision allowing those folks traveling from out of town to cancel their plans. Had we waited until Thursday, it would have been too late for most to cancel their travel arrangements. This means driving, taking off from work, baby sitters, hotels, tapering for the event, and on. One day notice for most of these items is not sufficient. Thus, the decision to make the early announcement is the correct one.

It may come to pass that Saturday is a beautiful day, and surely we will eat crow for this. However, even today the forecast calls for rain with a low of 33. But the double edged sword of being a race director, and being in charge of any event, is that we must make decisions for the good of all even if it is an unpopular one with a few. Again, I stand by the decision.

I also trust that we both have spoken our minds on this topic and the dialogue is over here. Thanks again for your comments. Even if we don't agree with all the comments we receive, they all play a factor in future decisions.

Jeremey Davis



March 3:
Bad weather, or the threat of it, has postponed the second annual Valdese Sprint Triathlon until May 28th. The forecast currently calls for rain on Saturday, but fairly mild temperatures. Since this race attracts a lot of first time competitors, I assume that the move was made to keep them from being discouraged by the weather and perhaps not even showing up. The move, while inconvenient for some, should have a positive impact on the third annual Founders Festival, which will be held on the same date.

March 8:
Town Manager, Jeff Morse clarified the reasoning behind the Sprint Triathlon postponement and added a few details to their plans. The decision was made by the race directors and Set-up, Inc because of the uncertainty of weather and the potentially dangerous bike course should their be frozen precipitation. Mr. Morse also added that on Saturday, there was a problem with the heater in the swimming pool bubble and that conditions were very humid inside which would not have made for an enjoyable experience for participants (and officials). In all, forty of the two-hundred pre-registered competitors could not make the May 28th date but with three more months to advertise and recruit, new competitors could possibly be found to fill the gap. The race will now always be on the last Saturday of May, with the Founders Festival.