Founder Graham Fraser realized something was missing in the cycling world when he left behind the Ironman franchise he helped build across North American from 1999-2008.
“There were no grand scale events in the cycling world for amateurs,” said Tim Hyland, who is race director for Centurion Cycling, adding “Graham envisioned a way to combine the high level of production of Ironman events with a festive atmosphere for cycling enthusiasts and recreational riders.”
The event series has found its way into Ellicottville, which will host a race Aug. 17 to 19.
“Arriving here is like driving into a greeting card,” reports Centurion’s website for the Ellicottville event.
Once here, cyclists in the event will be able to share in the race’s philosophy of choosing whether to race or ride in a “grand scale” event, while also choosing if they want to ride to benefit a charity in the community.
In fact, said Hyland, Fraser starting working on sporting events 25 to 30 years ago in Ontario, developing and managing the Subaru Triathlon Series. Hyland said Fraser saw an opportunity to take an athletic experience and “transpose it” into the cycling world that may have only existed previously for professionals in sanctioned events that limited participants to a select few.
“There’s something for everybody,” said Hyland about Centurion. Participants can choose distances, age groups, and in which pace corral to start. They can race, or simply go for a ride to enjoy the scenery in an event that is complete with law enforcement for traffic control, is timed and professionally organized.
“It’s the marathon of cycling,” said Hyland, adding some just seek to finish the ride while others race for top finishes. A video of Fraser discussing the event said it is an all-inclusive event that provides an amateur crowd the chance to participate in an event that looks like the Tour De France in a simulated big production.
The events have drawn crowds since they began in 2010. In its first year, Centurion Canada (The Blue Mountains, Ontario), drew 1,400 participants, he said, adding there were 3,400 last year and 5,000 are expected this year. The 2012 Centurion Cycling series includes events in June, July, Ellicottville’s August race and another in September.
“It’s a pretty significant jump,” Hyland said about the number of participants, adding organizers are trying to replicate last year’s success. “It’s abundantly clear people are pretty hungry for (such an event),” he said.
Not only will cyclists benefit, but, Hyland said, the event’s organizers want it to be “a catalyst for good” by offering charities a chance to raise money at the races. Hyland said we put so much time and energy into planning the events, we also want to do something good for a community as a result, that’s what we’re about.