On March 23, 2014 what may have been the last Tucson Triathlon was held. It’s the end of an era brought about by the beginning of another. Tucson has a modern streetcar and that modern streetcar bisects part of the bike course. The streetcar stops for no triathlon. Back in March of 1995 Jim and Rane Stites put on the first Tucson Triathlon. Through 58 editions of the Tucson Triathlon the race has always revolved around the U of A campus. The swim takes place in the same pool where countless Olympians and NCAA champions have trained. The bike makes the same 3 loops around the University. The run has either looped around the center part of campus or meandered through and around campus.
When the race first started in 1995 many new and established pro’s used the March race as an early season test of their fitness. The March race used to sell out in days once registration opened. Since the inception of the series most of the races have sold out and often had a wait list as deep as the field racing. As time progressed it became a race series that brought many triathletes into the sport. Over the years hundreds of people have done their first triathlon at this race. It’s where people have discovered their love for the sport, for pushing their limits. For many it was often their first step into the sport of triathlon. Many years ago they instituted a kids race exposing the next generation to the sport.
As Tucson uses the modern streetcar to link the University, 4th Ave and downtown things have to change. Sometimes for better sometimes for worse. The city has pushed out some long time traditions in favor of developing new traditions. Sometimes progress comes at a price. Hopefully the City of Tucson, the modern streetcar and Jim can come to some sort of arrangement. Maybe that means a new bike course, or the Streetcar yields to the triathlon three times per year or some other unseen compromise that allows more people to become triathletes. If the race is no longer going to be put on it’ll be a sad day for the Tucson triathlon community.