Sad news for Canadian triathletes today from Multisport Canada – the 2020 Barrelman triathlon has been cancelled.

No time to enjoy the view of the falls for the runner from the Edge Triathlon relay team at the 2019 Barrelman Triathlon. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Many Ontario athletes were waiting anxiously to see if this race would happen in 2020 – hopeful that a local, half-distance race might be a possibility in September.

Unfortunately the reality of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is making it less and less likely that we’ll see any sort of triathlon racing here in Canada in 2020. Today John Salt and the rest of the Multisport organizing team distributed the following message:

This is the email I didn’t want to write. With heavy heart, but clear mind, I am cancelling the 2020 edition of Barrelman. The race will return in 2021.

I made the decision to cancel the race after consulting with everyone involved in the planning and delivery of Barrelman. Athletes, medical professionals, EMS workers, sponsors, local officials, volunteer committees, and our safety team all agree. Proceeding with the race would mean unnecessarily and recklessly jeopardizing the health of more than 3000 athletes, family members, volunteers, race staff, police and EMS professionals, not to mention all those working locally in the hospitality industry who have made us feel so welcome in Welland and Niagara these past 5 years.

This is a risk I am simply not willing to take. We take our responsibilities as race organizers very seriously and have built a brand synonymous with its customer experience. Safety is the foundation of that experience; we cannot and will not undermine it. If one of us is not safe, all of us are not safe.

If safety were not reason enough, other factors also drove this decision, all related to unacceptable levels of uncertainty as we tried to answer the key questions we laid out in our ‘Go/ No Go’ plan from May 1. Local and provincial policy on mass participation events and social distancing guidelines could change at any time. The foreseeable future of cross border travel is unclear and unpredictable (impacting our many US racers) and the availability of adequate swim facilities is a cause for concern.

We had originally planned to communicate with you by mid-July. However, the uncertainty we face now will not materially change by July 15. We also didn’t want you to have to wait unnecessarily for this decision.

As we announced on May 1st, every registered athlete will receive an email with a link containing the three options. These are:

  1. Defer your entry to Barrelman 2021
  2. Obtain a 75% refund, less processing fees
  3. Choose to waive all or part of your refund which will be used to support MultiSport Canada operating expenses.

*The instructions on selecting your options will be sent in a future communication.

MultiSport Canada is a small independent company with very few cash sponsors and survives on the net income after race expenses and the year-round operating costs of salaries, rent and other fixed overhead. 2020 will be an exceptionally challenging year for us all and while the cancellation of Barrelman will certainly have a negative financial impact on MultiSport Canada, rest assured we have calculated the financial ramifications and are confident that Barrelman will be back in 2021.

I trust you understand my rationale to cancel this year’s event. I know in my heart it is the best thing to do given all the contributing factors.

I look forward to seeing you all on the start line in 2021 and I’ll be waiting for you on the finish line.

All the best,

John Salt and the entire MultiSport Canada Team

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