There’s been a lot of buzz in the air in the sport of triathlon recently for a couple of reasons:
1. Equality in the sport for women
2. How much do pros matter
Let’s start with the issue that probably isn’t as big of a deal to most people (so I won’t spend a lot of time on it), but hits close to home for me – how much do pros matter. Last year, Ironman announced they would be cutting how many races would have money at them. One of them was Ironman Louisville… which is my hometown. After the race, I started the #keepourpros initiative to try to make a stand and make the voice of people heard that wanted to have pros at the Ironman races that lost their prize money. I specifically remember people telling me that they wouldn’t do a WTC race (such as Ironman Louisville) without pros at it. However, some of those people have signed up for those races.
Quickly moving on to the more pressing issue, EQUALITY. A quick recap of what has been the issue here. The world championship in Kona has very limited space on the peir. The pro men get 50 of those spots, and women only get 35. Last time I checked, 35 is a lot less than 50! This makes it a lot harder for women to get to Kona. I recently read the blog on Ameber Ferreira’s website (a former Maverick Multisport athlete). It is a great case study on how this effects even some of the best women in the sport… especially the up and coming athletes. Ironically, Ironman recently announced 3 additional spots on the pier for women. However, those 3 spots didn’t go the professional women. The three spots have been allocated for the WTC Women for Tri Board. Spots that I would assume are being paid for by those three females.
I know that not everyone will agree that pros are important… but I know that people will agree that equality is important. If you are concerned both or one of these issues, then you need to do two things. First of all, sign up for different events. Whether it is a local race, Challenge Family, HITS triathlon… whatever it is, support the companies that support equality and support pros. If you say you don’t agree with what Ironman is doing, but still sign up for their races you are basically casting a vote of approval. As long as Ironman has money coming in, they won’t change anything. Consider if a politician said he/she was against guns, but decided to do a 5K run that all the proceeds went to the NRA. The press would be all over that and having a hay day with it. It’s basically the same thing that pros and age groupers are doing still doing Ironman races but don’t agree with one or both of these important issues.
Secondly, if you want to sign a petition for 50 Women to Kona click here and let Andrew Messick see your name!
Will pros take a hit for a year or two if we do this? Yes! But if you want to see change a sacrifice is needed. For myself, I won’t be racing Ironman races for the rest of the year and have no plans of racing with them in the future.