You’re Not A Triathlete!

I was going to talk about my race plan for the upcoming TriRiot 70.5 triathlon this weekend, but something distracted me and I just couldn’t resist adding my two cents.

Earlier today I was doing a light workout and listening to Triathlon Taren’s latest podcast. Apparently, someone once told Taren that, “… You’re not a real triathlete unless you’ve done an IRONMAN…”. That’s along the same lines as the other thing I’ve heard, “You’re not a real Ironman unless you’ve completed the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona.”

First of all, neither of these statements have a direct impact on me other than my desire to point out undeserved arrogance. So let’s dissect each of these two statements.

You’re Not An Ironman Unless…

Notice my distinction between Ironman and IRONMAN. Ironman is the accolade and IRONMAN is the brand.

For lack of a better term, I’m going to call this group of individuals purists. They believe that the only real Ironman is that person who has qualified for and finished the big race in Kona. I have no argument with these purists. After all, John and Judy Collins, founders of the Ironman and IRONMAN, first gave the 140.6 mile challenge to a group that would race in Hawaii in 1978. Commander Collins declared that the finisher would be called an Ironman. I don’t know that they made the same declarations at Lake Placid or in Tempe, AZ. So I suppose the purists are saying that, in order to be an Ironman, you have to race the original IRONMAN course. There’s a problem with that.

A lot has changed since 1978. The race is held on a different island these days and athletes don’t have to be self supported any more. Today the race is a corporate event designed to make the participants feel like rock stars and generate attention in addition to the competitive aspects. When the event was conceived in 1977, it was simply a challenge to see if swimmers, cyclists or runners were the better, more fit athletes.

Another issue is that the Ironman accolade ideally (maybe not legally?) belongs to WTC who owns the IRONMAN brand. Therefore, WTC can confer upon whomever they wish the title of Ironman.

And no conversation like this would be complete without mentioning Mike Reilly who started the famous finish line call, “… YOU. ARE. AN IRONMAN!”

Now on to the other claim.

You Are Not A Real Triathlete Unless…

I do have an issue with anyone who claims the only real triathletes are those who have completed an IRONMAN. On what do they base this claim?

What if I race an IRONMAN that is only 140.2 miles long instead of the standard 140.6? That happens. Does that not make me a triathlete? I’m sure you can imagine a whole plethora of scenarios like this that would put into question our membership in the “triathlete” category.

Like I mentioned before, I think this claim has no effect on me. As far as I know, my membership in USA Triathlon is not based on a prerequisite of completing an IRONMAN event. However, it is quite insulting to suggest that ITU professionals and sprint age-groupers alike are not triathletes.

This is a point I will argue, because it is not as ambiguous as a branded title such as “Ironman.” Over 100 years ago, a triathlon was a completely different event of three different sports. However, today a triathlon is generally accepted as a timed event that combines swimming, biking and running. This is where USA Triathlon and ITU and other governing bodies have a role. They define what triathlon is and is not.

I might agree that the one-and-done athlete is just that: an athlete and not a triathlete. However, those professionals and age groupers who live the triathlon lifestyle and compete in sanctioned races, regardless of race brand or distance, are most definitely triathletes.

Conclusion

Taren Gesell, YOU. ARE. A TRIATHLETE. (and soon you’ll be an Ironman too).

Until next time…

Observing Passover

Today is the last day of Passover.

I’m not an observant jew, but I like Passover and I do like eating Matza. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen matzoh at the grocery store so I had to resort to making my own.

It’s an old family recipe. Someone else’s family not mine. I found on the internet.

If you are not familiar with the story of matzah It all started when the Isrealites were tired of slavery in Egypt and left in a mighty big hurry.

I don’t read Hebrew so I can’t quote the Torah, but here’s a verse that I pulled from the King James Bible, Exodus 12:39

And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.

Two simple ingredients: flour and water. You would think it should be easy to make, but you’d be wrong. At least in my case you’d be wrong. I mixed and kneaded and rolled and baked. What resulted was something incredibly crunchy and tasteless.

Actually I think I created a very authentic matzo. It tastes like it has been in the dessert for 40 years.

Until next time…

Triathlon, The Great Equalizer

Listen here

This post is what some people might call “puke on paper.” Not that it’s bad. It just may seem like several unconnected ideas barely tied together. Maybe it’s just a trail of thoughts. Whatever it is, I hope it will be an argument to encourage more people to try endurance sport.

I Have a Hypothesis

The desire to actively seek out difficult challenges is rooted in ambitious and driven personalities regardless of socio-economic status.

I’m not a sociologist or psychologist. But if that statement above is true, then what are the barriers to entering the world of endurance sport? Why do so many high school athletes grow up to be sedentary adults? Is a significant segment of the modern human population devoid of ambition and drive? If so, evolution is not working in our favor right now.

That hypothesis has not yet been tested and I’m just not sure how to get the data to test it. (To be honest, I’m pretty sure none of this matters and life will go on happily without anyone testing one of my crazy hypotheses).

The Evidence

Sometimes I wonder if triathlon is a sport of the rich. Next time you’re at a big race, look around at the bikes in the transition area. Look at the cars in the parking lot. If you don’t see what I see, then read no further, because I’m basing everything that follows on my repeated observations of very expensive bikes and cars.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median full-time weekly earnings among a sample size of 60,000 households was $936 in the last quarter of 2019. That’s a yearly estimate of $48,672.

Now compare that to the over $100,000/year reported to be earned by 6,700 of the 10,217 respondents to a USAT survey in 2016. Because 6,700 is greater than half the sample size, that would put the median income of people affiliated with USAT over $100,000.

If that’s all you look at, then you might conclude that triathlon is, in fact, a sport available primarily to the upper middle and wealthier classes. But there are several problems with that conclusion.

  1. 751 respondents taking part in the survey were from non age-group athlete categories like race directors, professionals and coaches. However, we can not separate them out from the income categories, so we don’t know what impact their responses have on average income.
  2. There are 362 respondents that make less than $30,000/year. Does this group include age-group triathletes? We don’t know.
  3. Could there be some other factor besides wealth alone that might describe why I see so many high priced bikes and cars at triathlons.

Most all triathletes I know are driven to perform somehow. They either want to improve their own PRs or qualify for Boston and Kona or they want to see just how far they can push themselves and what amazing things they can do with their bodies.

Now, I must admit that I’ve been a bit biased in what I’ve told you so far. I actually have seen bikes racked at IRONMAN races that are probably less valuable than the running shoes racked next door. That’s usually an exception, yet it does exist. Does that mean that triathlon really is available to those with less resources?

Why This Might Matter

I believe that drive and ambition are what help to make people rich. I also believe that drive and ambition are behind age group triathletes who enjoy triathlon. If that’s true then triathlon does not have to be a sport of the wealthy: triathlon might transcend economic status. Yet there seems to be a lot of value placed on very expensive items such as bikes, watches, clothing, wetsuits, pneumatic recovery boots, etc.

So where am I going with all this?

I guess I want to believe that triathlon is the great equalizer of human achievement. I want to believe that I can race against the very best and a very diverse group on the same course and on the same day. I want to believe that performance matters regardless of how much each athlete can spend. I want to believe that all I need to qualify for Kona is a strong desire and a lot of work.

Until next time…

My Father’s Wisdom

Listen Here

My father was born almost six years before The Great Crash of 1929. Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway), he grew up during the Great Depression. The one storyline I distinctly remember him telling me several times was about his father and the family’s good fortune during one of America’s most difficult eras.

His father, my grandfather, worked for the U.S. Postal Service which gave the family quite a bit of security knowing he had a job. Every now and then, I would ask dad about the depression and the only take-away messages I remember are:

  • there are no guarantees in life.
  • a secure job will keep food on the table.

He talked about how lucky the family was to have a regular income. Times were still tough, but not as tough as waiting in bread lines.

As I reflect back on those conversations more than 40 years ago, there were things he didn’t talk about. He didn’t talk about all the people out of work during the 1930’s. He didn’t talk about how hungry other kids in the neighborhood were. I learned all that in school and from old newspaper articles.

So here I am today, working in a decent job that allows me to put food on the table, keep a roof over my head and do the sport I love. I got here because this is what I planned on doing. Yet there’s something I didn’t plan on: heartache. I do not feel bad for attaining my current position in life. Instead, I feel guilty that I am still working while millions are predicted to be out of work soon due to the coronavirus pandemic. In my little sphere of influence already, people close to me have been laid off. It is heart wrenching to know that there are good people out there who want work, but can’t in the short term. Some times the short term is too long to wait for a recovery.

All of dad’s wisdom never prepared me for this.

And do you want to know what’s ironic? Dad left his secure job for one of the least secure professions in the world: show business.

But feeling terrible for the unfortunate doesn’t help anyone. I know what I have to do. I must keep working as long as I can to help our sagging economy and put food on my family’s table. I need to continue training for a race that was cancelled a week ago. Above all, I need to act in charitable ways. I hope you will too.

Until next time…

Is IRONMAN In Hot Water… Again?

Before we dig into the meat of today’s post, let’s celebrate a new comment on the TriRiot Home Page.

This one is a single word: Garden. Not as wordy as the last comment, but probably just as meaningful. I think these comments belong to a secret code and once I assemble all of them, I’ll know their true meaning.

Now on to today’s post…

Screw You, COVID-19

COVID-19 sucks.

There. I said it. Everyone else is saying it so I figured I’d better join in. My first A race of the season was rescheduled, but that’s not why I’m using choice words (like “sucks”) in regard to COVID-19. It’s just a devastating virus. That’s all there is to it.

Come On, IRONMAN!

The IRONMAN Group is receiving some negative comments for the way they are handling race cancellations and rescheduling. It’s easy to focus anger at IRONMAN because they are a corporation. Andrew Messick, the CEO, is not often seen or portrayed as one of the rank-and-file. (As a contrast, four billion people just love the Dalai Lama and he claims to be nothing more than a regular monk). So yes, it is easy to take out aggressions on WTC or the IRONMAN Group if you see them as little more than a money hungry behemoth that leaves the little guy drowning in its wake.

The Complaint

The complaint is simple. Complainers want IRONMAN to quickly make a decision as to the fate of their races in the face of COVID-19. I can understand. Athletes want to know if they have to change travel plans and how to modify their training. However, dealing with dozens of cancellations, postponements, etc. is a horrendous task for IRONMAN and all the local race directors.

The Defense

I’m not an IRONMAN insider, so I’m not going to try to defend them with facts and figures and legal precedence. But I do know how difficult these situations are on a race company. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew put many miles of the IRONMAN North Carolina bike course under water and destroyed several communities along that course. It was devastating. The IRONMAN reps worked closely with our race director and course directors to find a solution. They could have easily pulled out and said, “See ya next year.” But they stayed and worked out a modified course. It was 56 miles short, but at least many of us had our day.

Flood Waters Covering the Road
Hurricane Matthew flooding.

During the decision process, social media lit up with negative comments about how IRONMAN should have been more transparent. I’m guessing those comments represented about 3 to 5% of the registered athletes. What those athletes couldn’t see was that many people were working behind the scenes for them so they could have a race. Also, because IRONMAN wanted to make things right, it gave all athletes a voucher for discounted entry into a race for the following year and donated money to the communities most affected.

I don’t want you to think I’m holding them up as a model of good corporate citizenship, but they did try to make things right.

Then, in 2018, Hurricane Florence dropped so much water on the region, that even more of the bike course was submerged than in 2016 and a key area of the bike course was completely washed a way (U.S. Hwy 421). That race simply had to be canceled, but not until all options were explored. These decisions were not taken lightly.

Now What?

So here we are in 2020 and facing the first large scale pandemic since 1918 and IRONMAN has some decisions to make: not just about one race. They have to consider many races across the globe and how to handle them. Then they have to figure out how to help the individual athletes.

I’ve been affected like many others and for me it is IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga. Yesterday, the news finally came out that the race would be rescheduled. I’m lucky because they gave me six weeks notice. They also gave me some choices. I can either stay with the race in Chattanooga on the new date or I can transfer my registration to one of three other races. In my opinion, they’ve gone way beyond what they needed to do to keep me as a customer. There are reasons I don’t like racing in Mdot branded events, but those reasons are outweighed by the reasons I like it. Not only that, registration is a contract and that contract does not require IRONMAN to do much for me if a race is cancelled due to circumstances out of their control.

If IRONMAN is still trying to decide the fate of your upcoming race, I’m truly sorry. I know the feeling. But please cut them some slack. They work very hard to be a big, profit oriented corporation. And they work very hard to give you a fantastic race experience. I see nothing wrong with either.

Until next time…

Triathlon Tips: Be Inspired

Triathlon Inspiration

Sunrise over White Lake
Sunrise at White Lake, NC.

Have you ever watched a video or read an article and thought, “That’s what I want to do”?

Often, a triathlon journey starts out as a spark in the “I’ve-Got-To-Do-That” section of the brain.  By the way,  that section is very close to the “Watch-This!” cortex which in some people is an entire hemisphere.   After a while, the journey gets routine for some people and the “Let’s-Do-Something-Else” reflex kicks in.

What keeps many of us going down a certain path?  Why do some triathletes stay passionate about their sport for decades and others lose interest after several years?

The “Journey”

Usually, the word, journey, implies going somewhere:  a destination awaits.   If that is true, then what is the destination in a triathlon journey, or any metaphorical journey for that matter?

I can only share with you my personal experiences and philosophies on this subject.  I have no database from which to pull enlightenment.

I get great satisfaction from finishing a triathlon. The finish line feeling is amazing.   But the finish line is not really a FINISH line in the sense of a destination.  It is only a step toward a greater objective: to live life to the fullest.   In an earlier blog post I wrote about what it feels like to be an IRONMAN. It applies to any race.  Here are the main points.

  • It’s the nervousness of waiting for the swim start, then getting pummeled by hundreds of swimmers and trying to fend off nausea caused by drinking too much salt water.
  • It’s the relief of climbing out of the water to be greeted by friendly volunteers  and the adrenaline rush of racing a quarter of a mile to my bike.
  • It’s the fear of riding the bike over a metal drawbridge and the excitement of having done it without incident.
  • It’s the arrogance of yelling at the head wind to “BRING IT ON”
  • It’s the excitement of seeing that special person on the sidelines at mile 38.
  • It’s the horror of seeing an ambulance on the bike course and a fellow athlete who is face down on the pavement.
  • It’s the sadness of thinking how hard that athlete worked to get to this race to have it end so horribly.
  • It’s cheering with the spectators at the entrance to T2.
  • It’s the pain of the muscle cramps that won’t allow the legs to function and the blisters: those nasty blisters.
  • It’s the warmth and friendliness of the volunteers.
  • It’s the companionship of hundreds of others who are suffering too.
  • It’s that feeling of renewed energy at the head of the finish chute.
  • It’s the satisfaction of crossing the finish line with a good friend.
  • It’s an overwhelming emotional catharsis as the events of the day are retold among friends and family.

Guillermo runs with LG on Front St. during IMNC

But this is just my perspective of the journey.

Inspiration From Others

I live by Scott Tinley’s quote,

“… race long enough and sooner or later you’ll suck…”

I’m fine with that.  Self deprecating humor can actually be quite therapeutic.  But I do find inspiration in others like Rudy Garcia-Tolson and Melissa Stockwell.  Some may call them challenged athletes, but I don’t think that term fits.  We are all challenged athletes.  We all have burdens to overcome.

Garcia-Tolson is a double amputee above the knee.  I’ve been following him since 2009 when he and I participated in Ironman Arizona.  I’ve never met him and he has no idea who I am, but he pushes me to be a better athlete: a better person.   His story is inspirational as he tells Bob Babbitt (who, by the way, has an awesome series of video interviews with endurance athletes).

It’s not just the “challenged” athletes that inspire.    The next time you toe the starting line, look around you.  Each person has a story worthy of telling.  Everyone there has made sacrifices, overcome obstacles, lost motivation, struggled with self doubt.

TriRiot is my attempt at telling the age grouper story.  I hope you find as much inspiration as I do in all of the “ordinary” people who push themselves to extraordinary limits.

Finish line at PPD B2B
PPD Beach2Battleship finish line.

The Race That Wasn’t

Less Than A Year

It wasn’t even a full year ago that Ironman announced its purchase of the independent race, Beach2Battleship.   And now, after one go at it, the race has been discontinued.   I will miss it.  Mostly I’ll miss the 112 mile single loop bike ride.

However, I don’t feel the anger that many have expressed on Facebook and I don’t view WTC, the IRONMAN company, as an evil monster.  WTC and its founders were instrumental in developing our sport and building it to what it is today.   It grew from a $3 million dollar investment to a $650 million dollar business deal last year when it was purchased by the Chinese conglomerate, Dalian Wanda Group.  So today, it is faceless and an easy target for animus.  But they’re not to blame.

So Who’s To Blame?

No one.

Who’s to blame for evolution? Who’s to blame for the color blue? Who’s to blame for puppies and kittens?  Those questions hardly make sense, right?  That’s because no one is to “blame” for the loss of our race.   We are all in this together.

  • For the same reason that athletes complain about the IRONMAN race price tag, WTC seeks to make a profit.
  • Because athletes choose IRONMAN races over independent races, WTC acquires independent races.
  • When athletes want a race experience, WTC focuses on delivering a race experience.

WTC is a business and can only exist if it has customers.  It has many.

The solution is simple, but not easy.  Competition will drive WTC to either change or wither.  I don’t want to see it wither, but change may be a good thing.  If you doubt that, look at Microsoft.  They are a completely different company since the competition arrived (Linux, Google, opensource, etc).  And WTC is a teeny tiny fraction of what Microsoft is/was.

Race companies have to find new, innovative ways to deliver the race experience.  That’s really what it’s all about: an experience.   Otherwise, we can just swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 miles and run 26.2 miles on any day of our choosing in any location of our choosing.

The Race That Wasn’t

Ironman North Carolina did happen on October 22, 2016.  However, the bike course was shortened from 112 to 56 miles due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew.  The race was an “IRONMAN”, but it was not 140.6 miles.  I’m fine with that.  In fact, the race was a wonderful experience for me.  I loved having it in my part of the world.

I wanted so badly to show off to the IRONMAN world how great our bike course is, but didn’t get the chance.  Now that the race has been discontinued, I will have to be satisfied riding the course for training and taking video selfies with the chicken at mile 67.

I’ll mourn the loss for another day and then be back on the computer to build my 2017 race schedule.

What Does It Feel Like To Be An IRONMAN?

Looking Back at Joyful Pain

As I write this, it has been 27 hours since I crossed the finish line at Ironman North Carolina.   Although my mind is ready to move on to the next big thing, my body is reliving the pain of the race.

That’s what it feels like to be an Ironman.

  • It’s the nervousness of waiting for the swim start, then getting pummeled by hundreds of swimmers and trying to fend off nausea caused by drinking too much salt water.
  • It’s the relief of climbing out of the water to be greeted by friendly volunteers  and the adrenaline rush of racing a quarter of a mile to my bike.
  • It’s the fear of riding the bike over a metal drawbridge and the excitement of having done it without incident.
  • It’s the arrogance of yelling at the head wind to “BRING IT ON”
  • It’s the excitement of seeing that special person on the sidelines at mile 38.
  • It’s the horror of seeing an ambulance on the bike course and a fellow athlete who is face down on the pavement.
  • It’s the sadness of thinking how hard that athlete worked to get to this race to have it end so horribly.
  • It’s cheering with the spectators at the entrance to T2.
  • It’s the pain of the muscle cramps that won’t allow the legs to function and the blisters: those nasty blisters.
  • It’s the warmth and friendliness of the volunteers.
  • It’s the companionship of hundreds of others who are suffering too.
  • It’s that feeling of renewed energy at the head of the finish chute.
  • It’s the satisfaction of crossing the finish line with a good friend.
  • It’s an overwhelming emotional catharsis as the events of the day are retold among friends and family.

That is what it feels like to be an Ironman.

Ironman NC - It feels good to see friends along the way
Guillermo runs with LG on Front St. during IMNC

What Makes an Ironman Part II

The world looks a bit different now.

I Feel Better About This

In my last post, I talked about IRONMAN North Carolina and the altered bike course.   All us athletes were expecting to compete on a 112 mile bike course.  Because of Hurricane Matthew, the bike course had to be reduced to 49 miles.  Actually, the race company was able to find another six miles to add to the course.  Based on my estimates, I think the total may be close to the 56 miles they claim.

Social networks lit up with many comments starting or ending with the phrase, ” … it’s not an Ironman… ”

In that post, I was not very happy, but kept an open mind as to the value of the race experience.  I feel much better today after picking up my packet and racking my bike.

The start of another great race
The start of another great race

Consider All The Parts

The lesson here is that a 112 mile bike during the race is only a part of the whole experience.  There are so many other parts to consider:

  1. The swim
  2. The run
  3. The volunteers
  4. The spectators
  5. The other athletes
  6. The finish line energy
  7. The starting line nerves
  8. The warm chicken broth on a cold run
  9. The high five from the kid along the finish chute
  10. The months of preparation
  11. The hard workouts that hurt
  12. The group rides that I’ll never forget
  13. The group breakfasts after long runs
  14. The group happy hours after evening swims

If any of this matters to you, then you will probably come to the same conclusion that I did.

The Question

So is it an Ironman?  That depends on you.

Literally and technically, it is an Ironman, because it is an event produced by WTC who can put the Ironman brand on whatever they want.

But the distinction of “IRONMAN” goes only to those who complete an Ironman race.  If you prepared for it and you completed it, you are an Ironman.  Therefore, tomorrow’s race with the altered bike course will make me an Ironman.  To me, the race is the ceremony that concludes months of hard work.

To others, the altered bike course may be a complete deal breaker.  Maybe they race only for the distinction of being called an Ironman under the condition that the full 140.6 miles are recorded in a database for the world to see.  For them, I truly hope they find a resolution, even if it may not be at Ironman North Carolina this year.

To the purists, whomever they are, no one is an Ironman unless they complete Ironman Hawaii (World Championship).

Conclusion

You have to make your own conclusion.

If I cross that finish line tomorrow and feel like an Ironman, then there’s nothing you can do to convince me that I’m not.  And I’m pretty sure I’ll feel the Ironman love.  But that’s no different than any other race for me.

By The Way

At yesterday’s athlete briefing, we were told that we would receive a coupon for $150 off of one out of a selection of the 2017 Ironman races.  I probably won’t need it to be a happy customer, but I might use it.  We’ll see.

What Makes An Ironman?

I’m numb now.  When I first heard the news, it felt like a punch to my stomach. And then I thought about what makes an Ironman.

A Race Director’s Decision

Because of Hurricane Matthew, the Ironman North Carolina (B2B) bike course was reduced from 112 miles to 49 miles.  Many of the roads on the original bike course are either still under water, damaged or needed by county vehicles for recovery efforts.    There was simply no way that the race could use those roads.

At this point, I can only speculate on why the race director made the decisions she did. And I admit it:  my speculations are biased because I know the race director and I’ve worked for her.  However, I’m also an athlete in this race, so I think I have a pretty good perspective on this.

The Facts

I don’t know exact details, but some facts are apparent

  1.  Several roads on the bike course are closed to vehicle traffic as of 10/19  (the race is on 10/22).
  2. The race requires support from participating counties in the form of law enforcement, permitting, and planning.
  3. County and state agencies have the power to grant and deny special use permits.

(A bit obvious, right?)  That’s not much information, but those are the facts that won’t be changed before the start of the race.

The Options

Given those facts, the race organizers have a few options:

  1. Cancel the race
  2. Postpone the race
  3. Modify the bike course

How the race company handles customer service is a totally different matter.  I’ll address that later.

The Decision

I don’t know why the race was neither postponed nor canceled.  I’m sure it has to do with economics and finances, as well as other factors.  However, I think I can speak to the reason the bike course is only 49 miles long.  It comes down to two words: GOVERNMENT APPROVAL.

I was not involved in any of these decision processes, but I know the bike course directors and the race director and I am 100% confident that they explored every possible detour in the area to get 112 miles.   I’m sure that even the contingency routes have been flooded and are off limits.  I have had discussions in the past with them about loop courses, contingencies, obtaining permits and rerouting bikes.  If you look at a map of the area, you will see that there are many roads that could be used.  In fact, I have ridden the vast majority of those roads on training rides.  However, what the map won’t show is just how difficult it is to obtain permission to use those roads.

Some possible reasons that permits will not be issued for the alternate plans.  Keep in mind that I don’t agree with all of them, but I think these are some of the reasons:

  1. Two way bike traffic on a two lane US highway is too dangerous.
  2. Every U-turn or left turn on a major highway causes a delay in traffic and increases the chance of an accident.
  3. Each intersection will require law enforcement to monitor and control vehicle traffic.  It’s possible that the number of law enforcement officers required on an alternate route would be cost prohibitive or too high for the counties to supply.
  4. Vehicle traffic is too high on many of the proposed alternate routes to allow a safe race.

I’m sure there are other reasons.  I do believe that if 112 miles were as important to the community as it is to us athletes, our permitting agencies would make sure that we had 112 miles to ride.

Is This An “IRONMAN” Course?

Ironman is a brand.  It is owned by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC).  So whatever or whomever they want to call an “Ironman” is an Ironman.

That’s not a very satisfying answer, is it?

  • I trained for a 140.6 mile multisport race.
  • I probably won’t feel like an Ironman after this race, but I won’t know until I cross that finish line.
  • I certainly can’t compare my results of this race with my previous Ironman races.
  • The results of this race will be biased toward good runners more so than other Ironman branded races.
  • Will there be a midnight finish line?

To me, Ironman embodies much more than a brand.  It means more than 140.6 miles.  My finish time hardly matters.  To me, Ironman is an experience that involves the distance, the challenge, the aid stations, the finish line, the doubt, the pain, the nerves: all of it.  I paid over $700 for that experience and I don’t know if I will get it, because the 140.6 is part of it.  But if I cross that line at the end of the new, short course and I feel like an Ironman, then I don’t care what anyone else thinks: I am an Ironman.

I don’t blame the bike course directors, because they made some very difficult decisions.  And I don’t blame WTC… yet.  It depends on how they handle the situation.

What Can WTC Do?

What WTC does about all this is the big question.  They have to be very careful because the Ironman brand must be kept in tact for WTC to be successful.

  1. They could change their minds about the race and cancel it all together.  That would be devastating for the athletes who want to continue with the race and for the community that is counting on the economic boost.  And if they do that, then what about the money we paid to participate.  I don’t think they are legally entitled to refund anything in the event of a natural disaster but they should offer something as compensation.
  2. They keep the short bike course and offer a percentage refund.
  3. What about giving athletes an option to either participate with the short bike course OR take entry in a different race in the near future?

I obviously don’t know if they will do any of that, but I do hope they seriously consider making “it right” for all of us.

Perhaps they have insurance for these kinds of things.