Give Triathlon Back to the Triathletes

I need to vent a little bit on this new program initiated by the World Triathlon Corporation – Ironman Access. And I really hope that after I do vent, I will feel better because I really do love this sport and hate to see it tarnished. For the last few years I have been growing increasingly disgruntled at the rising cost and market saturation of the “M-Dot” product produced by the WTC but this time they have taken the greed machine way too far.

Welcome the addition of the Ironman Access concept. And I use the word “welcome” in much the same way I would welcome a stomach virus…. Or a hole in the roof of my house. According to the Ironman Access pay to play program, athletes are now given the opportunity to pay an additional $1,000 membership fee to gain access to their exclusive preferred customer club, which will “afford” (another great contradiction, huh?) them the opportunity to register prior to general registration opening up to the rest of the non-member mortals. 

Seriously?

As if entry fees and the entry process to these races were not already out of control, we are now going to ratchet the snob factor up a few notches and make these events available to only those with thousands of dollars to burn. Is this really what this sport was intended to be? At what point did the WTC lose complete perspective? And when and how do we, the athletes, draw the line?

Thank God there are independent events out there being run by race directors who have a soul and who DO understand the spirit of the sport and the spirit of the triathlete. Maybe their toilet paper doesn’t contain a logo, but their events are safe, affordable, and fun and focus on the CHALLENGE OF THE RACE.

People ask me all the time whether I prefer to race the independents , or the full production M-Dot races. My answer is usually very honest and I highlight the benefits of each, encouraging people to do both events so that they have a fair representation of both ends of the event spectrum. But I am really struggling with this last move by the WTC which in my mind demonstrates nothing but a ravenous quest for someone else’s dollar.

Popular WTC events already sell out in minutes and carry a lofty sticker price, and now we have the Access program. I am dying to see what might be next. Will they (WTC) continue to price and drive their product line upward and into eventual extinction?

I’ll ask the question again….Is this really what this sport was intended to be? I think and hope not. Can we please just take a step backwards, breath deeply, and take a few personal and corporate inventories with the hope that we can find a way to please everyone and make this a user friendly sport (again)? I honestly don’t think I am rich enough to ever consider an M-Dot event again.

 Am I missing something?

Post Script – This morning I have learned that there IS redemption. We do have a voice. And there is much power in the social media. This program has officially been cancelled. It takes courage to admit and correct a mistake like this. Well done WTC.

While I felt strongly about raising my concern, my faith has been restored by this very important video message released by the WTC. Please visit:

http://ironmanaccess.com/

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3 Comments

  1. Posted October 29, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    And they call Golf an elitist sport? For $15 I can walk my town course for 9 holes in under two hours. WTC needs to get a grip and not succumb to such greed!

    I am with you Steve!

  2. Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    As a race director and competitor I totally agree with you. Part of the reason I got into race directing was to offer events that aren’t outrageously priced and offer a quality event. I personally think the IM are out of control with their pricing and don’t understand why people flock to them. I can’t afford to do them. Who gets all this money? Do they donate to charities? My events all donate to some worthy cause. Of course mine are all sprints but this year I am planning that 1/2 and I intend on charging half of what an IM charges and I will still donate a portion of proceeds to the park and fire department. I guess events in large cities cost more to run, but yet they pull more sponsorship dollars. The issue is that the people still go to theirs, so I guess if they still fill them they can get away with it.

  3. Posted October 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I share the longing for the nitty gritty challenge of the distance at hand, thanking the volunteers and encouraging our tri-brethren along the way, and yes my initial reaction to this access echoed yours Steve, I sat back and thought about it for a bit.

    As I tried to think from WTC’s position a few things occurred to me that might take a little of the sting out of it. I’ve spent the last 3 years @ IMLP, (volunteering 2x in order to register) + seeing the enormous lines, along w/ the tales from tri-folks nationwide of unsuccessfully trying to register online. (especially as participants STILL get first dibs and many DO re-reg for the following tear.)

    I myself tossed around a fair way to handle so many worthy hopeful registrants. Frankly,, I couldn’t find one. It seems to me to be like the NFL selling the rights to buy tickets. YES it seems greedy, but It also seems to be a way to possibly;
    - disappoint fewer ppl who invest time, $, and effort by going to a race w/ the intention of registering.
    - It occurs to me that the quality + quantity of volunteers may suffer a bit.
    - it also sounds like an opportunity for a more athlete friendly movement of events. Which I happen to know is in the works.

    Final thought: Whereas I don’t like it any more than the next triathlete, I have come to believe that this move is more a result of a great job marketing a ‘Brand’. Obviously, the demand is there.
    I’m not bitter at WTC, but still do appreciate and desire the Karma / Zen of testing ones self that initially both hypnotized + endeared me to our great lifestyle of triathlon.

    Thank you for the forum.
    Paul N. Goldstone
    ‘I run to stop MS’

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