Dive from ferry starts Escape the Cape Triathlon

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LOWER TOWNSHIP – The final countdown is on for the inaugural Escape the Cape Triathlon.

A thousand registered race participants will start the swim by jumping off the Twin Capes Ferry into the Delaware Bay on Sunday, June 2.

The event sold out in 10 weeks, according to race promoter Stephen Del Monte, and “has shaken up the endurance sports world.”

“The response has been tremendous and I’m fired up to get started,” he said. “It’s the only event of its kind along the East Coast. Where else can a triathlete jump off a ferry boat to begin a race?”

The triathlon will be headquartered at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal. Three events will take place simultaneously: the “international,” which comprises a one-mile swim, 20-mile bike and five-mile run; the “sprint,” which requires a .35 mile swim, a 10-mile bike and a five-kilometer run; and the “aquabike,” which calls for a one-mile swim and 20-mile bike.

There will be road closures and detours on race day, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. All persons living along Ferry Road, Johnathan Hoffman Boulevard, the West Cape May Bridge, New England Road, Batts Road, Atlantic Avenue, and Beach Drive can expect road closures during that time, according to a press release. Residents are advised to use caution and have a plan to take an alternate route the morning of June 2.

“We are expecting that the roads will be cleared by noon, at the latest,” said Mayor Michael Beck. “It is all systems go. We are expecting several thousand spectators throughout the township.

“We want these people who are coming here for the first time to get the right introduction to Lower Township. There’s no way they won’t be able to see all we have to offer,” Beck added.

Del Monte, of DelMo Sports, has said that he anticipates the event will bring between a half million to a million dollar boost to the local economy.

According to the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA), athletes will begin boarding the ferry at 7 a.m. to get ready for the race’s start.

“We want to emphasize that the ferry is not only a fun, relaxing way to travel across the Delaware Bay, but it can also be a perfect place for events like concerts and triathlons,” said Heath Gehrke, director of ferry operations. “It’s been great working with DelMo Sports and Lower Township to make this happen.”

Complete event information can be found at www.escapethecape.com.

The schedule released by DRBA officials is as follows:

  • 4:45 a.m.: Parking opens at Cape May Winery Vineyard, Shunpike and Sandman Blvd. only 5 a.m.: Shuttle buses begin taking athletes and spectators to ferry terminal
  • 7 a.m.: Ferry boarding begins
  • 7:30 a.m.: Final call to board ferry via the Sky Bridge
  • 7:45 a.m.: Ferry departs
  • 8 a.m.: Sprint race starts
  • 8:30 a.m.: International race starts
  • 9 a.m.: First sprint finisher expected
  • 10:10 a.m.: First international finisher expected

DRBA officials said that no book bags, back packs or other carry-ons are permitted at the event. Participants are not allowed to carry anything on the vessel that they are not swimming with.

On the bike route, cyclists will exit the ferry terminal onto Lincoln Blvd., turn right onto Jonathan Hoffman Blvd., onto Seashore Road over the West Cape May Bridge, onto New England Road, Shun Pike Road, Batts Lane and back toward the ferry terminal. The course continues past the entrance to the terminal where participants will turn right onto Atlantic Drive, left onto Emerson and travel back to the ferry terminal via Beach Drive.

The running course takes place primarily on Beach Drive. Because the international triathlon running course is slightly longer, the running course continues on Beach Drive to Pinewood and then towards Hollywood Avenue where they turnaround.

Township officials have called a special council meeting Thursday afternoon to formalize the shared services agreement with the Cape May County Sheriff’s Department, which will supplement Lower Township police on race day.

“It’s a formality, everything is in place,” said Beck, who noted that public costs associated with the event – including the increased police presence – are being reimbursed by the race promoter.

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