By JOHN T. WARD
Road damage from Tropical Storm Irene five weeks ago has prompted organizers to pull the plug on this Saturday’s Red Bank Triathlon, redbankgreen has learned.
The problem is Hubbard Avenue, which was undermined when Shadow Lake overtopped its banks and is still in the process of being repaired, says race organizer Doug Rice.
The race was to begin at Red Bank’s Marine Park, where a 1.5k Navesink River swim was to have been followed by a 40k bike ride and a 10k run. The bike segment was to head west into Middletown across Hubbards Bridge, and thence north through Middletown and Holmdel before returning.
But without access to Hubbard Avenue, the race would have to be run along a stretch of West Front Street in Middletown or over the Route 35 Cooper Bridge, and the west along Navesink River Road, in order to connect with the remainder of the route.
Both had major drawbacks, Rice said. West Front is just too busy to travel, and can’t be shut down, and Navesink River Road crosses the North Jersey Coast Line rail tracks.
“I don’t care what time of day it is, the traffic on West Front is crazy,” Rice said.
As for the rail crossing, Rice was confident that all outbound racers could make it to the crossing at a time when no trains are scheduled to pass, but “there’s no way I’m not going to have bikes getting stopped coming back.
“I don’t want to put racers at that railroad crossing and have them just standing there” waiting for a train to pass, he said. “It’s just not right.”
The logistics involved in planning the route, which involves local government approvals from three towns and added police at key locations, prevented the bike portion from being rerouted in time for the event, he said.
Rice said the 200 athletes who’ve already signed up for the tri can get their money back; have $25 of it credited toward Sunday’s duathlon at Sandy Hook; or have the fee credited to the Red Bank Triathlon scheduled for next May 16.
They can also participate in 1.2- and 2.4-mile swims off Marine Park now slated for 9 a.m. Saturday.
Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore was not available early Monday afternoon to comment on the status of the Hubbard Avenue rebuilding job.