Triathlon route offers opportunity for hospitality

Robert Smith

Barnsdall’s Chamber of Commerce is looking at the possibility that the 2020 Ironman Triathlon in the Tulsa area may offer the community a chance to build its reputation for small-town hospitality.

The triathlon, scheduled for May 31, 2020, is to begin with swimming at Keystone Lake. The swim portion of the competition is to be followed by a scenic bicycle course that will take participants into rural Osage County. As currently configured, the bike course includes a transition at Barnsdall from County Road 2409 to State Highway 11.

That brief transition through the streets of Barnsdall gives community leaders a chance to volunteer to offer their support for the triathlon and, in the process, hopefully encourage visitors to northeast Oklahoma to take an interest in their town.

“This is a huge event,” Osage County tourism director Kelly Bland recently told the Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce. She said the working estimate for potential visitors to Tulsa and the rest of northeast Oklahoma for the triathlon is 100,000 people. “I want to see Osage County benefit from the influx of participants and families.”

Chamber President Claud Rosendale expressed a desire for Barnsdall to begin work on a plan to support the triathlon and promote the town’s reputation as a welcoming community.

“We really do need to start working on this,” Rosendale said, indicating he would see about submitting an application to provide volunteer support for the Ironman event.

Rosendale said he thinks the bicycle route, as currently laid out, will take cyclists along Chestnut Street before winding toward Highway 11. He added that it would really be great if the route could be altered slightly to take cyclists along Main Street, which would offer more opportunities for public viewing of the riders and for offering any desired volunteer services.

Bland said the Tulsa area is to have an Ironman triathlon for each of the next three years, so 2020 will just be the beginning of an opportunity for Osage County to seek a supportive role to play.