TOWN IS OPEN FOR IRON­MAN

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

IN 2011 fa­ther-of-four Matthew Evans, 44, de­cided to bring the en­durance triathlon Iron­man to Tenby. With its mam­moth 2.4-mile swim, fol­lowed by 112-mile cy­cle rounded off with a full marathon it was go­ing to mean a lot of up­heaval for the area. Roads would be clos­ing and many of the streets in the town would be blocked off.

“Be­fore the first one there was a lot of plan­ning to get the town to sign up to the idea,” said Matthew.

“It was a mas­sive cul­ture change for Tenby and Pem­brokeshire, there was 74 miles of roads to close for the bike course and peo­ple weren’t used to that.

“This is a tourism town and they were scared. We spent nearly ev­ery sin­gle night of that sum­mer in schools, pubs and church halls just ex­plain­ing what the con­cept was and say­ing ‘give us a year, let it run and you will un­der­stand’.

“We ed­u­cated a lot of busi­nesses on what was com­ing.

“We are lo­cal to the area and have to live here 365 days a year – we had to get it right.

“We had to tell ho­tel own­ers that if they were go­ing to take ath­letes to then ex­pect their bikes to be com­ing into their rooms and all their gear.

“There was huge push­back ini­tially. You felt like Shrek – ev­ery­where you go peo­ple were chas­ing you with pitch­forks.”

When race day came along the peo­ple of the town ex­ceed all ex­pec­ta­tions. Now seven years later many of the busi­nesses owe their very liveli­hoods to the boost the event gives.

Win­ter is a tough time for all self-employed peo­ple in any sea­side town but none find it harder than new busi­nesses.

They of­ten haven’t been able to fat­ten up as much as the more es­tab­lished firms and those first few years are the acid test for the projects they have sunk their hearts into.

If you head down Tenby’s charm­ing Up­per Frog Street you will find three of these busi­ness down a nar­row side lane pressed against the me­dieval walls. They are so close to­gether you can stand on one spot and knock on all their win­dows.

For these en­trepreneurs, the Iron­man and long course are es­sen­tial for get­ting the fledg­ling firms on their feet.

Just two years ago James Bea­van and his friend Rob Faulkner quit the rat race manag- ing in cor­po­rate pubs and did what ev­ery man and his best friend have drunk­enly dreamed of do­ing – open­ing their own brew­ery.

Tenby Brew­ing Com­pany is now in the process of up­grad­ing its fa­cil­i­ties us­ing the old kit from Tiny Rebel. On top of this it has opened its own craft brew­ery bar “Sand­bar”. Ac­cord­ing to James, the Iron­man is an enor­mous draw.

He said: “It has mas­sively pos­i­tive im­pact through tak­ings and also the rep­u­ta­tion of the town. It draws at­ten­tion to us on the map. We’re two hours from Cardiff and it’s amaz­ing to have an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence come to Tenby achieve­ment.

“I know peo­ple who have just come for the Iron­man and then have been bring­ing their fam­i­lies ev­ery sum­mer af­ter be­cause they loved the town. It’s a com­pound pos­i­tive ef­fect.”

Next to the Sand­bar is In­die Burger which has been run by Josh Be­van and his cousin for just over a year. He out­lined how the triathlon pro­vides an end-of-sea­son boost.

He said: “Me and my cousin own it, we dis­cussed it back in 2009 and then last year he came to me and said ‘now or never’.

“I was work­ing in the so­lar in­dus­try that to take on this ath­letic com­ple com­pletely died be­cause the feed­feed-in tar­iffs went, so I tho thought I should jump be be­foree I was pushed.

“Win­ter is a tough t time for ev­ery­one in T Tenby but we do have a good lo­cal fol­low­ing. That is the key to sur­viv­ing. Well that and h hav­ing one hell of s sum­mer!

“We de­cided our first wwi win­ter to just stay open li­kee like we nor­mally do and see howh it goes. “We al­ways wanted to do this in­tently be­cause the in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion over the sum­mer is so great. I got told it was an 800% in­crease but whether that’s true or not I don’t know.

“I do no­tice a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple around the Iron­man. In the run-up it is all the peo­ple sup­port­ing them and the night af­ter all the ath­letes come in so they can gorge on burg­ers af­ter be­hav­ing so long!”

For 30-year-old Laura Shorten, owner of The Fuch­sia Caffe, this the first time she will be open dur­ing the Iron­man in her new busi­ness.

“The busi­ness has been go­ing months,” she said.

“We don’t re­ally know what we should do. I have man­aged places closer to the start but I’m not sure what to do with this one.

“It was be­cause of the Iron­man that loads of other sport­ing events have sprung up around the town. We seem to have a lot more fit peo­ple around! We get a lots of cy­clists.

“The buzz is fan­tas­tic – my brother ran in it a few years ago and ar­rived back about 10 o’clock at night.”

Speak­ing about pre­vi­ous years, she said: “Whether you were busy on the day de­pends where you are. When I was man­ag­ing some­where on North Beach we would make most of our money by 10 o’clock in the morn­ing and that would be bet­ter than any day we had all sum­mer.

“I don’t know what it is like where we are now yet but peo­ple are def­i­nitely af­ter break­fast as soon as the swim is fin­ished. We are hop­ing to take ad­van­tage of that. We do a proper Welsh break­fast with laver cake.” for five

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