A month ago the XTERRA East Championships off-road triathlon series came through Richmond. It was the 16th straight year XTERRA has put on a championship-level race here. But there’s a chance it could be the last.
“It’s our oldest concurrently-run location on the U.S. tour,” said Janet Clark, XTERRA president, in an interview last week. “We have a long history and a lot of good times and fond memories (in Richmond), and frankly, a lot of development of that trail system there.”
Why is Richmond in danger of losing XTERRA? After three years as the presenting sponsor of the XTERRA races — sport- and championship-distance triathlons and two trail races — Luck Stone is bowing out.
“We love those guys. They were fantastic,” Clark said, of the Luck Stone team. “They were extremely helpful in keeping that race in Richmond. They brought in some wonderful technology…We leave on very good terms with them. It just doesn’t really fit their overall marketing strategy at this point in time.”
So, Luck Stone is out, and, at least for now, there’s a void to fill. This has happened in the past, notably in 2011, when the city refused to offer XTERRA financial aid after local insurer Heritage Union did not renew as presenting sponsor. That’s when Luck Stone came onboard.
Clark said they’d very much prefer to keep the race in Richmond, “but reality is reality. Obviously, we have a vested interest in Richmond as a race location…and we’re going to be working to keep the race there. But, yes, we do need someone to help us do that.”
She added that she hopes to begin negotiating with possible sponsors sometime in the late fall or early winter. When I asked her if XTERRA absolutely needs a presenting sponsor to bring the race back to Richmond, she said that wasn’t completely accurate.
“But I would say we would need some assistance of some kind. Obviously, the more the merrier. We do rely on that local support to keep us in the region. It’s an awfully huge region that that race serves (the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic) and we’ve had some interest from some other locations as well.
“It’s never over until it’s over,” she said. “We have a vested in that race and there are some emotional ties and a lot of history that would certainly sway us in a push-come-to-shove situation.”