I will speak up here.
As many know I created SavageMan in 2007 and handed over the reins to VTSMTS in 2014. The downward trend was already underway with participation having peaked in 2012.
While I have no "official" involvement in the event anymore I am still emotionally invested and I was involved in the changes announced today. (including the design of the new courses if that gives anyone confidence that the new SavageMan remains worthy of racing)
Anyone with eyes and half a cerebellum could see that SavageMan 2017 was not sustainable. So, there are two outcomes. Make changes or fold up shop. To Greg Hawkins's and VTSMTS's credit, they are committed to the event despite it being an exceptionally difficult one to put on. They understand they are stewards of an iconic race in the sport and simply shutting it down is not a decision made lightly.
So, changes were considered across the entire weekend to widen the appeal of the event and to inject new life and energy into the event.
The Sprint (20) and Olympic (30) are on separate days and totally separate courses. This means people that aren't ready or willing to handle the extremity of 60/70 in SavageMan terrain have option to race both days.
The format of the new 40 on Saturday is interesting and may be appealing to some, plus gives a good challenge on Saturday to those who think the 60 on Sunday is insufficient.
Why alter the 70 at all? It's pretty obvious that people like the idea of SavageMan 70 but were not able or willing to actually do it. Everyone who has done it loves it, pretty much unanimously. But new folks weren't coming and repeat customers weren't coming back. Will the changes to the 60 change that? Probably not. But, it does attempt to thread the needle of shortening it a little, while keeping it hard as hell, and simply adding change with new roads and new climbs to give people something new to experience who have done it before. All the while keeping Westernport and the tradition of the bricks intact.
Sticking to the 60, I will also state with confidence that it will still be the hardest triathlon of half-ironish distance that anyone will ever do. The bike is only 5 miles shorter, and while it eliminates the repeated blows to the face from miles 30-40, it adds in Dry Run Rd, a legitimate mountain pass. Have fun with that, everyone who thinks the new course is "watered down". Then there's the run. Now it's only 10 miles, but contains 3 hard climbs per 5 mile loop compared to the old course of 2 hard climbs per 6.5 mile loop. Guess what, there's gonna be plenty of suffering in those 10 miles.
My guess is the event is done and dusted. But without change it most certainly was. With these changes there is a chance that people will love it and the change will have injected some new life and energy into the race.
Lastly the new stretch of course is something special. For those who know SavageMan they understand how great the riding is out there. But, even by those standards, the haul along Savage River and then the climb up and out of the valley on Dry Run Rd are just phenomenal. If nothing else, before SavageMan folds up shop it needed to show to the triathlon world that these roads existed.
In other words, I can't keep this on my "bucket list" any longer. I need to do it in 2018, because there may not be a 2019.