The sprint triathlon market has become very competitive in New Mexico, and it became too much for the city of Santa Fe to put on its own event.
The City of Santa Fe Triathlon was postponed for this year, said Liz Roybal, the recreation complex manager for Fort Marcy Complex who also coordinated the triathlon for several years. Roybal cited the glut of triathlons in the state, plus the lack of participants in the race for the past two years, as well as the struggles with staffing and finding volunteers as reasons for the Park and Recreation Department’s decision.
“We’re just focusing on the day-to-day operation [of the department],” Roybal said. “We made the decision in early January or February. We got all the managers together and looked at the stats and the budget and the schedule [of other triathlons], and they had taken up a lot of dates.”
The triathlon began in 2008, thanks to Roybal’s effort to bring to the city a sprint triathlon, which consists of a 3.1-mile run, a 12-mile bicycle ride and a 400-meter swim. The event began and ended at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center and in its first year had more than 250 entrants. Those numbers stayed consistent until the race was put on hold in 2015 because the pool at the Chavez Center underwent repairs.
That decision ended up undermining the health of the race, as the size dwindled significantly. When it returned in 2016, only 80 people entered it. Last year, the number rose to 120 despite Roybal returning to coordinate it.
“It’s bittersweet,” Roybal said. “I’ve been in parks and rec for many years, and I’m close to retiring. I’m a little tired, but my heart is always in it. But we’ll move on to something bigger and better. It really ran its course. There is so much competition for triathlons.”
Roybal pointed to events in Los Alamos, Santa Rosa, Shiprock and Roswell that competitors can choose from in the summer months, which made the competition for entrants even tougher because there are only so many people and so many races. She added that it might be the end for the Santa Fe Triathlon, saying that the city is working with Tom Rojas, who has coordinated many running and triathlon events in the past, to see if the race can be revived in some fashion.
As for her department, Roybal said Parks and Rec is looking at a fall event that caters more toward families.
“This administration is very keen on families, and family-oriented activities — and not just for athletes,” Roybal said. “We’re going to brainstorm and come up with something that is fun, but still challenging.”