Friday, October 29, 2010

Countdown to NYC : 9 Days

Over the past few days, the tri community has been in an uproar about a recent move by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) who owns/runs the Ironman events.  Basically, they introduced and quickly rescinded (within 24 hours) a program (Ironman Access) that allowed you to buy yourself into a VIP-type membership, thus granting you early registration for events that normally sell out within hours.  As a newbie triathlete, it sparked an odd feeling in me because I don't quite know what to think.  I don't know the history.  I don't have the appreciation for the "old days".  I don't fully understand.  I get the fact people are angry.  I may be wrong, but from what I have gathered it is because they feel greed/money has driven the WTC to make several decisions that are not in the best interest of the sport of triathlon and the age groupers who make it go round; most notably the Ironman Access program and the recent addition of the 5150 series.  Having never raced an Ironman event, I really can't comment on the organization other than what I have gathered from reviews, blogs, and several friends who have raced in their events.  From what I have gathered, they are well-run events for the most part, but they take away the athlete-focused feel of the smaller, more intimate independent events.  To the WTC you are just a number, to the independents you are special.  It made me start thinking about the marathon community. 

What makes an Ironman/WTC event any different from a Rock 'N Roll series event in the running community?  They are both huge organizations who buy out local races and turn them into a branded, almost mechanical event.  Most races lose their local flair and become overly crowded and more expensive.  To me, they are near perfect parallels.  Why aren't runners throwing their hands up in disgust when Rock 'N Roll goes out and buys another race?  Or are they?  I don't know.  It's a legitimate question I think.  Is it due to the fact that there are more independent events to choose from in the marathon community?  Nowadays, marathons are around every street corner.  Has it always been that way?  No.  It all started with the growth of the sport. It used to be crazy to even think about running a marathon.  Now, people who don't have any business lacing up the shoes and toeing the start line are out there giving it a shot.  In my opinion, it sounds like this recent controversy is a sign of growing pains in the 140.6 and 70.3 triathlon event community.  In recent years, the sport of triathlon has experienced explosive growth and events are becoming harder and harder to gain entry into at this level.  The number of events to choose from in any given month can be counted on one hand most of the time.  Take for example my current predicament with next year.  I have a 4-month time frame open for my event, and only have about 12 events that even fit that window.  If you then consider that each event can usually handle no more than 2K to 3K people, you have a pretty small number of race slots available for a tri-hungry population.  If you take that same 4-month time frame and search for marathons, my options are nearly unlimited.  Not to mention, you have races easily accommodating thousands and thousands of runners.  My point is that the reason for the current predicament is simply supply and demand and the growing pains of an exploding sport.  Who knows if the WTC was actually making this move in an effort to free up more spots as they claim?  Who knows if it was purely a bottom-line enhancing move?  In my opinion, I could see the benefits for some people.  It would make sense to fork over the $1,000 if you didn't want to spend vacation time and money for travel, lodging, and food to go volunteer at an event.  In my case, it would probably be cheaper to fork over the $1,000 rather than travel from OKC to Louisville, Arizona, or Florida for a few days to volunteer.  Do I think it's the best answer?  No.

The recent controversy will soon come and go, and Ironman/WTC knows this all too well.   For the time being, people are going to have to deal with expensive entry fees, limited access, and sometimes ill-advised moves by the operating bodies.  Controversy will breed innovation and growth.  Someone down the line will start organizing more events, see the opportunity at hand, and start making money just like the WTC has done.  Until then, it looks like we are all in this predicament together.  Fork over the money gang, it's going to be an expensive season.  I still haven't decided which race I will call mine, but I do have to admit that this recent controversy will have almost no bearing on my final decision.  Between Rev3, independent, and Ironman events, my options are still pretty limited. 

Here is the latest update on the ING NYC Marathon weather:

Day Night

Few Showers


Wind: From NW at 11 mph
Humidity: 58%
UV Index: 2 Low

Sunrise: 6:33 AM ET
Avg. High: 55°F
Record High: 68°F (1994)

Scattered Showers
Overnight Low


Wind: From WNW at 6 mph
Humidity: 68%
Sunset: 4:45 PM ET
Avg. Low: 40°F
Record Low: 30°F (1962)
Last Updated Friday, Oct 29, 10:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time

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