NC triathlon drops Trump name from event title after political backlash

The “Tri for Good” triathlon – formerly called “Tri at the Trump – will take place at Trump National Golf Club, Charlotte in Mooresville on Oct. 8.
The “Tri for Good” triathlon – formerly called “Tri at the Trump – will take place at Trump National Golf Club, Charlotte in Mooresville on Oct. 8. Charlotte Observer

The founder and race director of an annual triathlon at Trump National Golf Club, Charlotte has dropped the Trump name from the title of the event less than a month before race day, citing politically motivated backlash and a marked drop in registrations over last year.

Old name: Tri at the Trump. New name: Tri for Good.

Chuck McAllister made the announcement on the event’s Facebook page this week. The Oct. 8 race – a sprint triathlon featuring a 750-meter swim, 13.25-mile bike ride and 5-kilometer run – benefits cancer-related charities including the Isabella Santos Foundation and Novant Health’s Hemby Children’s Hospital.

“Since Mr. Trump has become president of the United States, the branding has definitely become an issue, as with anything associated with the word Trump,” McAllister said in an interview Thursday. “Fifty percent – or maybe a little bit less – will appreciate what that name stands for, and then there are some on the opposite side who absolutely are disgusted and have no interest and will try to do anything and everything they can ... to try to be disruptive to anything to do with the name.”

McAllister said he has been inundated with complaints about the name this summer, and that only about 140 people are signed up for the race. He said last year at this time, nearly 200 were registered.

“I was going to actually make the announcement that we were rebranding to a new name at the race,” he said. “But it came to such a head that I had to get something out there to try to change the focus of what everyone was going at me about.”

A resident of Trump National, the 53-year-old McAllister is an executive at a global shoe-box manufacturing company who co-hosted (with his wife, Connie) a fundraiser for Donald Trump at the club last summer, raising more than $1.4 million for the presidential candidate’s successful campaign.

McAllister was quoted just this past weekend in a New York Times story about how Trump-owned clubs are thriving in areas that helped the president get elected.

However, he said Thursday that he hoped people could get past the politics.

“I believe we have a great race,” McAllister said of the Tri for Good, “and we raise a lot of money for what everyone cares about: Kids who can’t help themselves. So it’s unfortunate. I’m sorry I had to do it. But it was something that had to be done.”

And perhaps not surprisingly, it immediately proved to be a divisive decision.

On a post by McAllister announcing the change, one user commented: “I like the name!! Catchy!!”

Another: “Was wondering when this would happen.”

Yet another: “Caved to the never Trumpers I see. I’m out.”

For the time being, at least, the website’s URL remains www.triatthetrump.com...

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Twitter: @theodenjanes