Promoter scraps Vineyard triathlon over fee dispute

Promoter scraps Vineyard triathlon over fee dispute

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Swimmers head out for an ocean swim off Inkwell beach in the inaugural Vineyard Warrior Triathlon. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Matt Brackman, organizer of the Vineyard Warrior Triathlon says the event will not return to the Island this year, unless Oak Bluffs agrees to lower fees for town services.

“I have sent a letter to the board of selectmen that we are tentatively cancelling the Vineyard Warrior triathlon,” Mr. Brackman said in an email to The Times. “I made this difficult decision after the parks commission heard my plea for a lower fee loud and clear, and responded by raising it again to an astounding $1,500.”

Mr. Brackman said if selectmen can resolve the dispute over fees, the event may go on as planned.

Parks commissioner Richard Combra Jr. said the standard fee for that kind of event is $1,000, plus a returnable $500 security deposit.

“The commissioners didn’t tell him he couldn’t have the event,” Mr. Combra said. “We just wanted him to pay the fee we had established. We didn’t change any fees just for his event. For somebody operating a for-profit event, with a $250 entry fee on town property, the town is just not going to give it away to him.”

The triathlon began with a one mile ocean swim off Inkwell Beach, with Waban Park used as a staging area and event headquarters. After the swim, competitors pedaled a 24.6-mile bike route around the Island, and then ran a 6.2-mile course around East Chop.

About 150 athletes competed in the inaugural Vineyard Warrior Triathlon in 2011.


    1. Agreed…it would be nice if there was a breakdown of the costs associated with the $1,500 fee.

      1. I would like to see a breakdown on both sides of this fence. There is always more than meets the eye behind a small $1500.00 fee. Show your books Mr. Brackman. Use of public property for profit should be worth atleast 25% of the profit.

        1. Well he had high hopes over the years that it would grow. doesnt look like it has. Averaging the same 160-200 a year. He was shooting for 800. This is an off season event which are hard to come by for towns they should talk and come to an agreement looks like alot of fun.

        2. I’m sure Joseph Stalin would agree with you. The rest of us believe in capitalism and Democracy. Ask Zuckerberg for his books too? Laughable!

        3. No, I don’t think that’s necessary. Lots of businesses use public property and don’t have to divulge their finances.

          If the $1,500 is about what it costs to support the race then that’s what the fee should be.

      2. The fee is $1,000. It’s standard and available on the town website. The $500 is because the promoter shows up a day early, leaves a day late and the place is a mess. This promoter is somebody to see for yourself. He is give a breakdown of what is expected of him and still does whatever he wants, then says we owe him because we are lucky to have his event.

        1. Thank you. The fee doesn’t sound excessive Many towns charge much more based on police overtime, etc.

        2. This information, if true (I haven’t looked yet, nor do I know about the event planner etc.) is exactly what should have been reported in the article.

          1. If all the information were in the article it wouldn’t be news and all this commentary wouldn’t exist.

  1. Agreed. Considering that Vineyard Warrior is the most poorly run triathlon I’ve ever been a part or even heard of, it’s amazing to me that Mr. Brackman is playing hardball with OB over a $1500 fee when the entry fee for the triathlon is around $250/ per person. He should thank his lucky stars that ANY town would be willing to allow him to profit from such a laughable endeavor.

  2. Trashing a race that has brought positive economic benefit to the community is pretty low. They have also donated a lot to local charities. I’m sure there are triathlon experts out there who are willing to say the race wasn’t Ironman and therefore not worthy, but I always had a great time, and so did many other residents.

  3. The last triathlon on Martha’s Vineyard was in 1994, and there was a reason that organizer never came back. I applaud anyone who can overcome the powers
    that be on this island to put together a race that lasted for as long as the
    more recent triathlon did. It seemed to get better every year, and probably would have eventually been good enough to satisfy even this islands critics. With more support from our elected officials we wouldn’t only have shark killers willing to put events on this rock.

  4. Isn’t it odd (irony here) that the GOP is always branded as the party of “no?” Given the liberal chokehold on the Vineyard’s politics, you would believe we would be hearing “yes, by all means” from our local politicians and agencies.

    1. What an irrelevant contribution. Are you comparing the relationship between the House of Representatives and the President to the OB selectmen and a race organizer? Are you trying to make generalities about national parties based on this?

      Maybe go for a walk today.

  5. The local races(MV 20 Miler,Scoops,Murdicks,Chilmark Road Race,All three of the races Roger Way puts on in OB and the many I’m missing) give 100% of after cost monies to local charities. I’m 99% sure Warrior Triathlon is a for profit venture meaning,though the organizers may give some to local charities,most if the after cost money leaves with them. So why should the town lower a fee for a for profit that is the same for a non profit? Besides,at $250 a pop entry,his first six entrants cover it….

  6. According to entry numbers in the article and entry fees on the website this event grosses well in excess of $30,000 so $1500 to use our property to hold the event seems more than reasonable.

    1. Alot of dumb logic on these posts. When you go to buy a pizza does the owner ask for your W2? Then if you make six figures it costs you twice the price. There should be one set fee. Don’t punish someone with the wherewithall to put together a huge event. This is still a capitalist society. Unfortunately if your not the one capitalizing then everyone else has to live by communist rules

      1. I’ll remember when I send my tax payment in that it’s communist to expect a return on my investment.

        1. Nice concept. You think you own a piece of the Park because you pay your taxes. I guess I own the Mass Pike because I ride it every day and pay a toll.

          1. Yes actually I do. It was proven by town counsel that the park is to be enjoyed freely by all taxpayers at any given time. No private event without taxpayer benefit could interrupt that. That’s why the shark tournament could no longer use the park at sunset lake. $1500 to be able to run your event is pennies on the dollar. Give the highway department a call and ask about the condition of the park after the race. It was discussed at the park department meeting. It’s a great event, but for profit.

      2. Hasnt been a capitalist society for some time now. With paying for two wars and economy bailout in 2007 the government controls just about everything. If the government ever stops controlling the interest rates so it can keep borrowing things might return to a capitalist system. We also have a fed buying up bad debts from fannie and freddie so they can keep loaning money for houses. Someday it will all collapse.

      3. No, the pizza place posts the price on the menu board just like Oak Bluffs did with the price for a race. Capitalist society would sell more tickets to cover the cost to the town.

  7. The article doesn’t make much known about the other financial considerations of the race, but $1500 does not seem like an unreasonable price.

  8. $1000 fee for the day and $500 security deposit. The fee is the same as everyone else pays that is “for profit”. The $500 deposit is added in to make sure he removes his equipment on time. Probably because he didn’t do that last year. Know all the facts before making judgements.

    1. Who else uses Waban Park?! No one pays anywhere close to $1000 or $1500. Stop chasing away people who want to invest in our island with price gouging. Now we’re just going to see an empty park 365 days a year rather than 364. Good logic! Hey let’s charge $1million.

  9. Seems pretty straightforward. The guy is trying to act like a victim? I saw the work going into it last year by the police and highway dept. If it benefits the organizer, then why shouldn’t he contribute to the costs?

    1. He wants them to shut down major roads during season and doesn’t want to pay for it. Really???

  10. Having competed in all 3 Vineyard Warrior triathlons, I am sad to see this event leave the Island. And despite what others may say, this event did not “grow” each year – quite the opposite (according to results: 2013 had 67 finishers in the Olympic distance; 2012- 139 finishers; 2011- 173 finishers). So clearly something was going wrong from the start. The fee for Waban park is not the real issue. The real issue is that the race director (RD) had made no relevant improvements over the past 3 years. Lack of informed volunteers, poorly marked courses, shoddy timing devices and equipment (my bike rack blew over in the wind and damaged by bike) – it all adds up to a very frustrating and disappointing experience. Not to mention that last year’s race (2013) wasn’t even a USAT Sanctioned event because the organizers didn’t want to pay the fee (or so the rumors on race morning were saying). As a result the registration numbers have dropped. This may come as a shock to some but triathletes are obsessed with numbers. Everything matters. The $250 race registration is just the beginning. Many athletes have to travel to the Island which means boat reservations, hotel stays and meals out … makes for a very expensive weekend. And when you don’t have the people paying the $250 (plus) to race, the race director can’t pay the bills (or make a profit as some would claim). There’s no wonder why he’s pulling the plug. I hope someone does take the baton and run with this race (no pun intended). It is such a fantastic location to swim, bike and run. I am lucky enough to enjoy this venue year-round. But the new organizers will have some serious damage control to tend to. Fingers crossed.

  11. Hard to believe that this event cant pay the $1500 fee when at the selectman’s meeting he was told to expect that. The cost of doing business in OB, and on Martha’s Vineyard is high. I tried to bring the Shark Tournament back, but it is now going to another Island, that appreciates the $$$ and the tourists that follow it. Stay tuned for further updates.

    1. My nephew uses much the same conversation technique to change the subject and say “Look at me!”