The city of Frankfort was packed on Sept. 12 with triathletes competing in the Ironman Triathlon Competition.
This was the city’s first time hosting the event after the 2019 race in Traverse City.
“I know these athletes travel from all over the United States,” said Benzie Bus Executive Director Bill Kennis. “What a great chance for Frankfort and Benzie Bus to showcase who we are.”
The city is still buzzing about the weekend’s event.
“Yesterday morning with all the athletes trying to get to the starting line, we had six busses that were just buzzing around,” said Kennis.
Benzie bus offered a free shuttle service for racers and their family and friends.
“I had been to these events, and you can only appreciate folks from out of town really not knowing where to go,” said Kennis. “Frankfort doesn’t have parking decks or a subway or anything like that, so public transit’s really important.”
Kennis says about 2,000 people utilized their service—more than what they see during the Fourth of July.
“On a Fourth of July for fireworks, helping folks out, [it’s] closer to 1000,” he said. “Easily a record day.”
The co-owner of Stormcloud Brewing Company, Rick Schmitt, agreed.
“The July Fourth holiday is a very busy time in Frankfort, and usually that lasts for three days,” he said. “We saw about the same number of people in one day on the Sunday of race day.”
The restaurant saw a lot of new customers this past weekend.
“People had never been to Frankfort before and seen our little slice of heaven,” said Schmitt. “Talking to them about where they’d been, it was great.”
They’re looking forward to next year’s competition, too.
“I think everybody’s still evaluating what worked and what didn’t work,” Schmitt said. “Whether that was traffic flow or parking or business hours, we’re going to all get together and figure it out.”
Cherry Capital Airport also saw hundreds of racers pass through their terminal.
The airport and the Ironman Competition estimated about 25% of participants flew in from around the country.
That’s about 400 participants, families, and friends that came to Northern Michigan this weekend.
“When you have a large event like that, to be able to have those here to greet them and welcome them to Northern Michigan is such a great honor,” said Airport Director Kevin Klein.
They’re hoping that as the word gets out about the Ironman in Frankfort, there will be an increase in participants.
“It attracts such diverse groups of people all over the country to participate,” said Klein. “That’s what’s really cool about this event.”
Frankfort is expected to host the Ironman Competition in 2022 on Sept. 11.