Thursday, September 13 -OC Considered As Finish Line For National Bike Race

OCEAN CITY – The internationally known Race Across America bicycle competition could be re-routing its finishing line to the beaches of Ocean City next year for their annual race from coast to coast. Although other locations are being looked at, Ocean City is one of the destinations being considered for the finishing city in the over 3,000-mile bicycle tour across the country.

Ocean City Public Relations Director Donna Abbott presented the idea to the Tourism Commission at last Thursday’s meeting, explaining that Race Across America had contacted her and expressed interest in changing the finishing point of next year’s race from Atlantic City, N.J. to Ocean City.

Race Across America began in 1982 and has become the longest running ultra-distance bicycle endurance competition in the world. The race usually begins in Oceanside, Calif. and finishes over 3,000 miles away on the east coast. For the past several years the race has ended in Atlantic City, but, according to Abbott, organizers want to move the finishing point to a more family-friendly town.

According to the Race Across America website, the competitors consist of cyclists spanning Tour de France racers and Olympic athletes to juveniles and septuagenarians.

Over the past 24 years, the race has been aired on ABC Wide World of Sports, ESPN, OLN, NBC, BBC and other stations around the world, which could prove to be advantageous for Ocean City, as the finish line is usually the most exciting part.

Abbott explained to the Tourism Commission that the event would be scheduled in June, which works as both a positive and a negative for Ocean City.

“There’s always an opportunity for more June events,” Abbott told the commission.

The downside is that the event occurs during the week of the Firemen’s Convention, with one of the days overlapping with the annual parade.

Despite the conflict, the race could bring both crowds and exposure to Ocean City. Abbott explained the bicyclists would be trickling into town over a three-day period. The event would bring 65 teams coupled with fans, who would need rooms in Ocean City and who would most likely enjoy the town for several days. The teams would need 80- to 90-room nights at a nearby hotel and three banquets consisting of 250 to 300 people. Abbott expects that 200 people would arrive that Tuesday, June 10, with 250 arriving Wednesday, 250 on Thursday and 150 on Friday.

The commission voted unanimously to support having the race come to Ocean City. The decision is not yet final, however, with Abbott having received no official confirmation from the race director as of Wednesday.

To see the full story, see tomorrow’s updated version of www.mdcoastdispatch.com or pick up an issue of The Dispatch at any of the more than 250 newsstands in the greater Ocean City area.

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