HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – For the first time in three years, the Ironman Triathlon is back on the Big Island, drawing 5,000 triathletes while forcing some businesses to close for the weekend, but Hawaii County says is a necessary compromise.
“You have the Super Bowl which will probably never come to Hawaii, but here you have the best athletes in the world and Hawaii is Mecca.” Hawaii Island Mayor Mitch Roth told Hawaii News Now.
The competition will now be split into two days with the women on Thursday and the men on Saturday.
On both days, traffic in the area will be blocked with the majority of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, Kuakini Highway and many side streets closed from sunrise to sunset.
“It will be a bit awkward on Thursday and Saturday, they actually already shut down a lot of other Ali’i readers.” said Mayor Roth. “We recommend people take the mountain road and know which roads will be affected.”
Mayor Roth reiterates that this is necessary as the event stimulates the local economy.
“You know, events like Ironman, where people come to Hawaii and inject money into our community, are really important.” said Mayor Roth.
However, some companies think otherwise.
“I know it’s bringing money into the economy here and into the city, but I think it could be reduced to a day as usual, you know. said Nakoa Pabre.
Nakoa Pabre owns the Umekes Fish Market in Kona.
He made the decision to close his restaurant from Thursday to Saturday due to their location right in the middle of the race course.
“Closing three days is a big loss of income, you know.” said Pabre. “Also now all my guys have short days and we’re still sort of recovering from Covid, so it’s really tough.”
Despite the frustration, county officials say the race’s return is monumental.
“Ironman was actually a really good thing for the island of Hawaii.” said Mayor Roth. “There are people who are going to be embarrassed and may not see it that way.”
Races begin at the Kailua Pier at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and Saturday.
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