Cambridge businesses busy planning for IRONMAN Maryland

MD-ironman 2x crab-072215

Special to Dorchester Banner/Heather Rosato
“Crabby Charlie” created by Jack Helgeson, owner of Choptank Charlies on Poplar Street, is made out of recycled buoys. For every one he sells IRONMAN weekend he will donate $20 to IRONClub Maryland.

CAMBRIDGE – Last month, Carol Levy Ruark, owner of The Wine Bar (formerly A Few of My Favorite Things) and Jack Helgeson, owner of Choptank Charlies, attended a seminar designed to help local retail businesses prepare for this year’s IRONMAN Maryland. The message to business owners was clear: “IRONMAN weekend is going to be bigger (1,000 more racers + families) and better (improved course and a coordinated downtown block party) than last year! Let’s be prepared to show our visitors what makes Cambridge special and make the most of the weekend for our local businesses.”

Ms. Levy Ruark and Mr. Helgeson listened. Light bulbs went off. And now they are busy planning ways to welcome the expected 4,000 visitors who will be in town for the Oct. 3 event, with unique offerings tailored to the participants eager to experience this race and our community.

Ms. Levy Ruark, who changed the name of her gourmet wine and lite fare business to The Wine Bar last week, got right to work.

“One of the reasons we rebranded so quickly was because of IRONMAN,” she said. “This year we are going to be a lot more prepared in terms of our menu, and we’ll have more Cambridge branded items that families can purchase as mementos of their time here.”

The Wine Bar manager and chef, Matt and Kate General, named a number of health conscious menu items they’re considering for the weekend, including gluten free, vegetarian and protein-rich “paleo” dishes. They’re also planning to use the sidewalk in front of the store to bring people inside, and extend business hours for early risers and late night noshers.

Ms. Levy Ruark summed up how she wants her business’s brand to be perceived. “We want IRONMAN people to know that The Wine Bar is a comfortable and welcoming place to relax and chill for a while that weekend.”

Down the street, Mr. Helgeson has plans of his own. After hearing that IRONMAN Maryland racers call themselves “crabbies,” he decided to create a promotion just for them.

“I make these crabs out of recycled buoys that I call “Crabby Charlie,” he explained. “I’m going to create a window display of them for IRONMAN Maryland. For every one I sell that weekend, I’m going to donate $20 to IRONClub Maryland.”

After witnessing the race up close last year — his store is feet from the run course on Race Street — Mr. Helgeson became convinced of the benefits of the race for the community.  “IRONMAN is the most professional organization I’ve ever seen, and they give back by donating to organizations in our community,” he said. “I can’t write a check but I can support the event and promote my business at the same time. I want everybody to succeed.”

If you’re preparing something special for IRONMAN Maryland, let us know at or by e-mail at so we can post it on the IRONMAN Maryland racers’ Facebook page. Support the event by becoming a member of IRONClub Maryland at

And, if golf’s your game, sign up for the IRONClub/C-SD Vikings Golf Tournament on Aug. 3 at the River Marsh Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay! Prizes include growlers from Ocean Odyssey Seafood Restaurant, and gift cards from Jimmie & Sook’s Raw Bar and Grill and Cambridge Car Wash. Sign up now at

IRONClub Maryland is the booster club for IRONMAN Maryland, the first full-distance IRONMAN triathlon in the mid-Atlantic region. For information or to join IRONClub Maryland, visit or

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