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After the bike, the runners exit at Central Park, finishing on Dead Road, just west of the bandshell on the 72nd Street transverse in Central Park.


“At every intersection, on every corner are people cheering for the athletes,” Korff said. “For the participants, it is just wild. Every 100 yards it seems like you are in another world.”


Korff admits that timing was perfect when the triathlon started 11 years ago.


“The city was putting together an Olympic bid,” he said. “As part of the proposal, it had to stage a triathlon. So everybody was very cooperative right from the start. We had no permitting problems. Everything went right as planned.


“And I guess you could say that we got it right the first time,” he continued. “After all these years, we haven’t had to change the course once.”


Staging a triathlon in the most densely populated city in the United States is no small task. Korff employs a veritable army of volunteers to make sure the triathletes remain safe along every leg of the course.


“We have more than 3,000 people working on race day,” he said. “It is tremendously complicated, but we feel like this is not just a triathlon, this is the New York City triathlon.


“We are representing the brand NYC,” Korff explained. “People who come to this race are expecting a unique New York experience. This is more than a sporting event … it is like one big moving party for 4,000 people that you don’t know.”


Korff knows a thing or two about entertainment. Before starting the Nautica New York City Triathlon in 2001 as part of city’s effort host the 2012 Olympics, the New York-based Korff Enterprises produced more than 200 music festivals and other high-profile events.


Korff’s company currently owns or produces the Quick Chek Festival of Ballooning and a major golf tournament in Hawaii. Over the years, Korff Enterprises also produced the A&P Tennis Classic for 25 years, the women’s tune-up event the week prior to the U.S. Open.


His signature event, the Nautica New York City Triathlon, had to go to a lottery format for entries for the 2011 race because of its popularity. The 5,600 spots sold out in less than seven minutes for the 2010 race.


“When I think about it, it is kind of crazy,” Korff quipped.


Korff’s race also hosts USA Triathlon’s Accenture Paratriathlon National Championship, one of the nation’s most competitive events for physically challenged athletes. But this race director also has dabbled in some of New York’s more unusual events, including The Regis & Kelly High Heel-athon, the Jamaica Underwear Run and the Pepcid AC Chili Cook-Off.


“It is all fun,” he said. “It is all entertainment.”


But Korff, who describes himself as the “world’s worst college wrestler” even though he went undefeated his senior year at Brandeis University, said while the professional triathletes may get all of the media attention, it is the age-groupers who are the heart and soul of triathlon.


“They really carry the sport,” he said. “They are the ones that really keep it going. If you want your event to be a success, then you have to make sure that you take care of them.”


Korff, who lives in Key Biscayne, Fla., with his wife Leslie and their three kids Jacob, 4, and 2-year-old twins Jonas and Josie, consults for numerous sports and entertainment events but still considers the New York event his greatest accomplishment.


Until the 2011 race, scheduled for Aug. 7, Korff will continue working toward making the Nautica New York City Triathlon the best Olympic-distance event in the U.S. But this die-hard distance runner hasn’t ruled out taking another shot at the starting line himself.


But next time, he’ll be wearing some proper tri shorts.


Terry Tomalin is the outdoors & fitness editor at the St. Petersburg Terry Tomalin is the outdoors & fitness editor at the St. Petersburg Times.


USATRIATHLON.ORG USA TRIATHLON 53

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