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Nickel City Triathlon headed here, giving Buffalo a 3-year image boost

Thousands of athletes and spectators from around the world are expected to visit Buffalo over the next three years as the city hosts the Nickel City Triathlon.

The event will be part of the six-city USA Triathlon Elite Race Series, and tourism officials believe that it will further strengthen Buffalo's image as a major amateur sports destination.

The first triathlon will be held Sept. 24-25 and is expected to attract more than 1,600 people from across North America and even parts of Europe. The Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission, which worked with Eclipse Multi-Sport to land the event, estimates that this year's triathlon will pump $500,000 into the local economy. The triathlon will be held at Gallagher Beach on the outer harbor and at venues in South Buffalo.

Similar contests will be held in 2012 and 2013, officials announced Thursday. Participants will compete in three race formats: swimming, bicycling and running. Event organizers added that the triathlon will be staged using a "spectator-friendly" layout.

The event is expected to bring some of the world's best triathletes to the region, said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In a statement, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, said he believes that work in the outer harbor, coupled with Buffalo's proximity to Canada, gave the region an edge in attracting the event.

"Over the next three years, thousands of athletes from around the world will take to Gallagher Beach, Buffalo's waterfront, parks and neighborhoods, placing this great community in the national spotlight and creating new economic opportunities for Western New York," Higgins said.

This year's race will also serve as part of the USA Triathlon Elite National Championship, including a special field of professional triathletes who will compete for a share of the series' largest purse, $75,000. That competition consists of six events across the country, with prizes totaling more than $300,000.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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