When triathletes dive off the dock and plunge into the Potomac River in Washington DC, on 10 September, they’ll have the backing of a new partnership, the first of its kind for the city’s only triathlon – the Nation’s Triathlon. Potomac Conservancy and the Nation’s Triathlon are joining forces to ‘fight for a Potomac River that’s safe to swim in on race day and every other day of the year.’
“We want the river to be clean enough to swim in every day, including race day. Thanks to this new partnership, we’re one step closer to achieving that goal,” said Hedrick Belin, President of Potomac Conservancy.
In years past, high levels of E.coli pollution in the river, caused by polluted runoff from heavy rains, have led to the cancellation of the swim portion the race. Though overall pollution levels in the Potomac are decreasing, the cancellation of last year’s swim demonstrates there’s more work to do.
“The Nation’s Triathlon recognizes the Potomac River faces a challenge with water quality and conservation,” said Bill Burke, President and Race Director of Nation’s Tri race organizer Premier Event Management. “We are motivated as ever to work with Potomac Conservancy now to right the course for the Nation’s River.”
Encouragingly, local infrastructure investments, including DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project, the first phase of which will be completed next spring, and the city of Alexandria’s plan to update its sewer system, underscore a local commitment to cleaning up rivers and streams.
“Everyone, athletes and all of us who cheer them on, can do our part to ensure cleaner water in the Potomac by supporting local initiatives that stop pollution and restore the river to health,” Potomac Conservancy’s Belin added.
The river is on its way to recovery. Potomac Conservancy’s bi-annual State of the Nation’s River Report, a science-based assessment of the river’s health, gave the Potomac a B- grade in 2016; up from a D just ten years ago.
As water quality improves, more people are getting outside to enjoy the Potomac, the US nation’s wildest urban river. Outdoor recreation in Maryland and Virginia generates over US$2.1 billion in state and local tax revenue annually, and that number is set to rise as investments are made to restore rivers and recreation spaces, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) found in a recently released report.
Founded in 1993, Potomac Conservancy is the region’s leading clean water advocate, fighting to ensure the Potomac River boasts clean water, healthy land, and vibrant communities. The conservancy improves local water quality through conservation and advocacy, and empowers a local clean water movement of 21,000 friends and supporters who fight for fewer chemicals in drinking water, safe and pollution-free streams, protected forests and accessible parks, and healthy and thriving wildlife habitat.
The Nation’s Triathlon, now in its twelfth year, shows off the iconic landscape of Washington, DC. Up to 3,000 athletes bike, run and swim in one of America’s most historic races. The 1.5K swim in the Potomac offers athletes a rare chance to see the capital city’s monuments from the water. The Nation’s Triathlon is set to take place on Sunday 10 September, starting at 07:00.
Participating triathletes will take over the historic West Potomac Park and surrounding area for the 2017 Nation’s Triathlon. An elite field of 21 professional athletes, including Olympian Sarah Haskins and 2016 Nation’s Triathlon Champion Michael Finney, are set to compete for a US$20,000 prize purse. The race will take participants for a swim in the Potomac River and winding past the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and more. The Nation’s Triathlon will offer an packed weekend, including an Olympic distance race (1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run), a sprint distance race (8k swim, 25.3k bike and 5k run), an AquaBike race and a Sports & Fitness Expo.