Sucking fun out of lake

Like fish out of water, some event organizers are flailing about to find alternatives to their carefully laid plans at Lake Mead since a congressional budget stalemate closed the national recreation area last week.

Along with several other programs, the American Bass Association’s yearly championship fishing tournament was canceled Saturday. It is hoping to reschedule the event for Nov. 23.

It also is hoping the budget crisis is solved before its Nov. 16 season kickoff event, according to the group’s public relations representative, Craig Sutherland.

He and other organizers have expressed their concern for government employees and lake marina workers who are going without pay while the area is closed.

“They are the ones who are getting hurt bad,” Sutherland said.

The association’s championship tournament, which has a grand prize of a new Ranger boat, is at Callville Bay Marina.

“We have 300 lakes in our database, and you won’t find another facility like Callville Bay (Marina). They are wonderful people,” he said.

“It’s sad to see anything that would hurt their business and hurt their employees.”

He said many of the 200 fishermen throughout the West who attend the event, which is held the same weekend every year, are out time and money because they plan their vacations around it, taking time from their jobs and booking hotels. Some, he said, might not be able to reschedule.

The American Bass Association has held the tournament at the marina for 30 years. In that time, Sutherland said it was never canceled because of a government shutdown, but did have some bad weather conditions to contend with.

“They were acts of God, not acts of Congress,” he said.

Sutherland said he hopes the recreation area will let the association transfer its permit application so it will not have to spend time and money starting the process over.

“It’s a little frustrating because we are stuck in this like everybody else,” he said.

Cedric Keppler, owner of Denver-based BBSC Endurance Sports’ Pumpkinman Triathlon, which is slated for Oct. 19, said he is hoping the area reopens for his event. But he has been crafting a contingency plan since the budget squabble began.

About 1,000 athletes from around the globe have registered for the 10th annual event, which includes swimming in Lake Mead, bicycling up the hill to Boulder City and running through the city’s parks.

Keppler said he talked to representatives at Lake Las Vegas to try and save the swimming portion of the triathlon, but because of the event’s size, he was unable to secure it.

“It’s heartbreaking for these athletes,” he said. “They train so hard all year long.”

The participants have paid $55 to $200 for the event, which has three distance levels.

Dan Ford is president of the Las Vegas Triathlon Club, which has about 300 members. He said about 50 to 100 members sign up for the Pumpkinman event each year, and 70 percent of the athletes are from the Las Vegas Valley.

He has been helping Keppler organize Pumpkinman for four years.

If the recreation area is not open, the Pumpkinman will be scaled down to running events starting at Bicentennial Park, Ford said. Participants will get their T-shirts and medals at an after-race party.

“There will be an event,” he said. “It won’t be what they want, but it’s something.”

The 3-mile event would start at the park and go through town on Utah and Wyoming streets and on Adams Boulevard and then back to the recreation area. The 6-mile event would start at the recreation area and continue on Utah into the desert outside of town. The half-marathon would make two loops of the 6-mile path.

BBSC Endurance Sports (bbsctri.com) and the American Bass Association (www.americanbaass.com) are using their websites to update participants about upcoming events.

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