After years of interruptions from extreme summer heat, the New York City Triathlon will move to the fall, with a race date of Oct. 1.
The change comes after what has been a rough few years for the race, which is a 1,500-meter swim in the Hudson River, a 40-kilometer bike ride through Manhattan and the Bronx, and a 10-kilometer run ending in Central Park. The event, which hosted 1,600 participants on a shortened course this summer, has not been held in its entirety for years because of heat waves and concerns around safety in the Hudson.
In 2018, while the event was already in progress, organizers shortened the run portion of the event to one mile as temperatures climbed to a high of 96 degrees. In 2019, at the urging of former Mayor Bill de Blasio, the race was canceled as temperatures were expected to be as high as 98 degrees on race day.
The race was not held in 2020 because of the pandemic, and in 2021, the swim portion of the race was canceled because of concerns about bacteria in the Hudson River. And once again, this year’s race was disrupted by a heat wave. The bike portion of the event was cut in half, and the run portion of the event was shortened to 4 kilometers.
While triathletes have complained about the multiple interruptions, organizers have said the midsummer conditions were most favorable for both obtaining the necessary permits and navigating the river tides.
But on Tuesday, the race, which was founded in 2001 and is put on by Life Time, announced it had moved the date to October. “Our goal is to avoid summer weather trends, which have negatively affected participants and spectators in past years, and improve the overall safety and the event experience for our incredible athletes,” the statement read.
Many athletes were relieved to hear the news. That includes Pascal Lestable, a New Yorker who has competed in the event before, but has yet to compete in a full, uninterrupted race. “We’ll finally have a triathlon with all three disciplines without fearing any changes because of the weather,” Lestable said.
Doc Golden, a triathlete who coaches for the Empire Tri Club, said the move was welcome, especially for athletes new to triathlons. New York City beaches aren’t open until Memorial Day, she said, and the move to October “creates new opportunities for new people to train smarter and longer.”
Plus having less anxiety around weather-related hiccups doesn’t hurt either, she said.
“Physically and mentally, it’s better to do it in October.”
As fossil-fuel emissions warm the planet, extreme heat is a growing danger for cities, including New York.
On Oct. 1 this year, the high in New York City was 61 degrees.
But a fall date doesn’t guarantee cool temperatures. On Nov. 6, temperatures reached a record 75 degrees during the New York City Marathon.