Now called the Lake Logan Multisport Festival, the event will celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend (Aug. 8-9) with a fanfare substantially outstripping its humble beginnings. More than 1,100 athletes are expected to participate in an event that now includes a half-ironman, international triathlon, sprint triathlon and an option to do just the biking and swimming legs of either triathlon.
“I always thought that it could be big,” said Greg Duff, president of Glory Hound Events, which organizes the festival. “You just never know how big it’s going to get until you get into it.”
By its third year, the festival had attracted more than 500 athletes, and when the half-ironman competition came onboard last year, entries exploded to top 1,200.
“That was the turning point,” Duff said. “When we added that race, it just brought a totally different athlete into the picture. It was a great opportunity.”
Duff attributes much of the event’s success to the setting. The lake is clean and the water temperature is perfect for swimming. Most of the course is canopied, keeping things cool even after the sun comes up. For a mountain course, it’s relatively flat.
The race’s success has been good for Duff’s company, but it also provides an economic boost to Haywood County.
“The Lake Logan Multisport Festival is a truly unique event because a large majority of the participants are from outside the county, so the economic contributions created are quite significant,” said Lynn Collins, executive director of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.
Since its debut, the Lake Logan event has injected an estimated $950,000 of economic impact to the county, most of that due to the fact that 80 percent of the athletes come from outside the mountain region, meaning they have to buy food, lodging and gas while they’re here. In 2014, when the field of 1,221 represented 28 of the 50 states, room revenue alone contributed more than $180,000 to the local economy, Collins said.
The event also gives back by partnering with nonprofits such as KARE, ARC of Haywood County and Girls on the Run, providing donations ranging from $300 to $1,800 in exchange for volunteers covering various duties on race day.
While the Lake Logan Multisport is unique in its proven ability to draw a majority of competitors from far beyond Haywood County’s borders, the county boasts many other successful large athletic events. It’s a huge, growing market, Collins says, and it’s vital to the county’s development as a tourism destination.
“For Haywood County to have a variety of events like this in its backyard is tremendous,” she said. “The economic impact during these events is very important, but it’s also what happens after the events. Many participants come to Haywood for a race, fall in love with it during the event and then bring their families back for vacation.”