Promoter scraps Vineyard triathlon over fee dispute

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.