IM Louisville, Kona Slots, and Pros

Ironman recently announced that several races will no longer offer pro prize purses, and the money from those races will be reallocated to other races to increase the prize purse and also pay 10 deep.  I can’t say for sure how this will affect the pro race fields, but I’m guessing that now the races left with pro prize purses will be very hard to place top 10.  It will be just as hard or harder for pros that are starting out in the sport to collect enough a money from the races to cover their traveling expenses.  Those at the top will be making lots of money, while the ones getting started in the sport are at a disadvantage due to covering their expenses by working another job, coaching, etc.  I am not saying that every professional triathlete should be making a ton of money (just like starting quarterbacks should make more money than the back up), but I think their should be some sort of travel stipend or something.

I also read Eric Limkeman’s blog and agree with a lot of what he said there.  The term professional triathlete is a very loose term. Very few triathletes can actually make a living doing it, and the value of a professional triathlete is hard to quantify.  Pro’s do their best to represent companies and companies do their best to promote their athletes.  We don’t make a ton of money off of them, and they don’t make a ton of money off of us either, so the compensation is probably fine from the companies.  I’m not asking to make millions, or even be considered rich.  I just think that Pros need to reconsider chasing points for Kona and not getting paid, or not getting paid enough to cover traveling expenses.  I know I plan on doing more Challenge Races next year as a business move to help me collect more money at races… and because I don’t think Ironman is a company to support right now.  Plus I know that at least this stage of the game for me, Kona is out of my reach.

Speaking of Kona, there has been lots of talk about having equal representation of male pro and men.  IM also talked about cutting the number of pro men slots down and increasing the number of pro women.  I don’t think this is right due to the proportion of male vs. females in the average Ironman race. From the pro start lists that I’ve looked at over the last few years, their is usually between 2 and 3 times more men than females.  Currently, 50 pro men and 35 pro women get to toe the line in Kona.  So even though there is 2-3x more pro men vs pro women, men only get about 1.5x more slots at the pier in Kona.

Some people think that equal slots on pier in Kona would send a better message to young women getting started in the sport.  However, I think that is not the case.  If people think that the pro men and pro women should have equal slots, you could argue that the F18-24 (the AG with the least amount of participation in IM races) slots should have equal representation in Kona as the M40-44 (the AG with the one of the highest representation in IM races).  If for some reason women out numbered men (which they probably do in comparison of F40-44 vs. M18-24) then the women should have more slots in Kona and be in proportion to the number participating.

At the end of the day, we (triathletes) can make a difference a vote with our money.  If we continue supporting IM and their poor decisions (at least in my opinion), they will continue throwing their weight around and screwing both AG and pro athletes.  Be vocal and speak out… don’t just be complacent.