Watch above: Thousands of athletes from around the world are expected to arrive in Edmonton at the end of the month for the world triathlon. The international event will also draw coaches and family members to the city. But the effort to get athletes’ equipment is taking some extra effort. Laurel Gregory explains.
EDMONTON – Preparations are well underway at Hawrelak Park as Edmonton gets set to host the 2014 TransCanada Corp. World Triathlon Grand Final, but as thousands of athletes make their way into the city, there’s a chance their bikes may not.
WestJet issued a travel advisory Friday, warning athletes it “cannot guarantee there will enough space to ship everyone’s bike at the required times” due to limited cargo space.
“I think that we will be able to accommodate most of those athletes, but we are urging cyclists in particular – the triathletes who are bringing their bicycles – to ship their bicycles ahead of time to ensure that they get there,” said WestJet spokesperson Robert Palmer.
WestJet’s advisory is the latest complication facing athletes and event organizers. Earlier this summer Air Canada issued a similar advisory, saying it will be halting bike transport to and from Edmonton and Calgary between Aug. 22 and Sept. 5.
“There’s still plenty of time,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “They caught this early enough that there is the opportunity to make alternative arrangements for the athletes to make sure they have the right equipment here.”
Triathletes are being encouraged to ship their bikes to Edmonton with Raceday Transport. In addition, organizers say they’re doing everything they can to make sure the athletes have their bikes in time, they’ve even hired a logistics expert to deal with any issues that may arise.
“We have a plan around all of that and we have been working with the airlines – with WestJet, with Air Canada – and with Edmonton Airports,” said Sheila O’Kelly, president and GM of the 2014 TransCanada Corp World Triathlon Grand Final.
“We’re confident that the plan that we have in place will ensure that the athletes’ bikes will get here.”
For those athletes who choose to travel with their bikes, WestJet says if the bike doesn’t make it on the flight with the cyclist, it will be put on the next available flight.
“We will continue to accept everything our guests bring just as we always do. When the space below is full, what’s left over will have to be put on the next available flight,” said Palmer.
The 2014 TransCanada Corp. World Triathlon Grand Final runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1 in Hawrelak Park.
With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News.
© Shaw Media, 2014