By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — KEENE VALLEY — The impact of Ironman Lake Placid reaches beyond the sweat and grit of competition.
Some 2,800 athletes will race in the triathlon today, pushing through the grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run course.
Beyond traffic snarls, the event brings more than 10,000 guests to the Olympic Village and surrounding communities.
Last Thursday, the Ironman Foundation organized a work party of athletes and Ironman volunteers to help finish Rivermede Park, a project in Keene Valley to reclaim greenspace along a roadside area devastated two years ago by Tropical Storm Irene.
Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee was helping with that effort.
“This is the final stage of Rivermede Park riverbank restoration,” he told the Press-Republican.
The park was seeded and mulched, while pathways along the East Branch of the Ausable River were put in place near a new canoe launch area.
The volunteer project was set up through Corrie Miller at the Ausable River Association, Ferebee said.
“Ironman also made a nice donation to the River Association and provided $6,000 toward this restoration effort.”
The association has taken the lead in park renovations along Route 73 and at the public greenspace across from Rivermede Farm, working with various state, federal and environmental agencies.
“It’s a nice place to come and relax and enjoy the river,” Ferebee said of the nearly finished project.
FROM ALL OVER
Rob Hastings, who owns Rivermede Farm, said about 20 Ironman volunteers worked on the park, which takes the name from its view of his farm.
“They were working across the river, not on our farm. This is all part of final bits of the river remediation project.
“They were spreading top soil, spreading grass seed and spreading mulch. The volunteers were people from all over the U.S., even San Diego, California and Connecticut,” Hastings said.
Ferebee thought most of the Rivermede Park grounds and paths should be finished by this weekend.
The town is hoping to open the park in early August, giving the seed time to grow.
In all, the Ironman Foundation has given over $1.5 million to Lake Placid nonprofits and other regional programs since 1999. This year, $55,000 was distributed.
In previous years, Ironman grants have supported the Lake Placid Ambulance Squad and Volunteer Fire Department, the Uihlein/Ironman Sports of Lake Placid fund, Adirondack Medical Center and recreation facilities for the Village of Lake Placid.
The consistent giving back was recognized by the Village of Lake Placid, the Town of North Elba and the Convention and Visitors Bureau last summer when they affixed a bronze plaque on a rock at Mirror Lake Beach near where the swim event starts.
The “thank you” marked a five-year extension of the Ironman race contract through 2017.
Email Kim Smith Dedam: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ironman triathlon gets underway early today.
Traffic on Routes 86 and 73 will be limited to one way in and out of Lake Placid. Also, Sentinel Road, Main Street and parts of Old Military Road will be closed or open only one way for much of the day.
The triathlon awards ceremony and athletes celebration will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Monday at the Conference Center at Lake Placid on Main Street.