State of Long Distance Tri, Part III

State of Long Distance Tri, Part III

23/09/2014 in Focus Aid, General

This will be a 3 Part blog:
Part 1 will consist of Up to speed, Challenge is coming, Prize Purses, Battle of the Sexes
Part 2 will consist of Where & When, Sponsors, Race Coverage, World Champs
Part 3 will consist of Starky Says

Let’s be real, the sport of long distance triathlon needs a big change. The age groupers and professionals alike have voiced their displeasure with WTC on social media and in forums but most are like a kid with an electric fence, they keep coming back and grabbing it and getting shocked. WTC makes a bunch of little “spit ball” changes and they see what sticks. Some of these decisions are great, like the points system for Kona and others are flops. Challenge provides a great race and there recent alliance with Rev3 gives the company true worldwide potential, but the athletes need to come in groves and show their frustration with WTC by racing their biggest competitor. For the success of the sport all of the major triathlon events need a pro field no questions asked.  It is good for the local communities attracting them to come out and see the world’s best, the sponsors that are exhibiting the races because they will get hype in social, web, and print media, and the age groupers who get to rub elbows and ask pros questions in the Pro Panels.  What other sports can an age grouper race right next to the world champion and compete at the same world championships.

I loudly agree with WTC’s changes for larger purses, but it is only a baby step in the “right” direction. Yet I am shocked and really disappointed in their choice of races. The more I looked at it, the more it makes sense. The pro races that they eliminated were all WTC owned events and they kept pro fields at all Ironman branded events. Yet I think they should’ve looked at the history of the sport and where the pros race before they did this.  I showed in part II where the pro’s raced and it is not in Oceana and Europe where none of the Ironman’s were cut.  If you look at the 5 classic Iron-distance races in North America you get: Florida, Placid, Canada (Penticton), Vineman, and Hawaii. Florida and Placid no longer have a pro race. Canada (Penticton) is a Challenge event because the local council did not want to deal with WTC anymore. Vineman full in the 2000’s opted not to be sanctioned an Ironman event and has continued to be a classic on the West coast. This shows WTC’s commitment to the roots of the sport.

Now let’s look at how can pro’s get paid more without breaking the bank? Easily, divide the races proportionally such that at every race there is EITHER a male or female pro field at every race. The only race in which both would race together is races like Challenge Roth and the WTC World Championship events. Why divide the field? A standard 70.3 prize purse of $15,000 purse divided between men and women benefited the champion and runner up and the rest lost money on the trip. Keep in mind that the average cost of a trip these days is at least $1,250 ($500 flight, $300 bike box, $100 rental car, $250 hotel, $100 in gas/food/parking). If we get lucky there is a homestay available and it saves us $250. Now if it was moved to a single sex race the prize breakdown would look like this. 15KThis will allow the podium to make money to pay more than just travel to the race.  It will also allow females to be showcased at events across the world instead of being overshadowed by the men’s race which they often claim to be.

This will not only benefit the athletes but WTC. As only a few athletes know, many of the WTC venues are break even before the 1st athlete signs up through sponsorships, concessions from the local visitor’s bureau, and income from the merchandise tent. The local towns give a lot because these events bring in over $2 million of revenue to small towns that host these races.

I digress; the change to single sex races will allow WTC to take bids from 20 cities to be the featured location of a Regional Championship instead of just 10 cities. With the funds brought in from the bidding wars from these cities the sport can get a monthly 1 hour time slot that covers the sport of long course triathlon, race previews, race footage. A one hour program has 48 minutes of coverage and 12 minutes of commercials; this will allow race sponsors to get their name on more than just a race. The main reason that Ironman grew the way it did in the 80’s and 90’s was because of television coverage for not just Kona but many of the races. Since 2008 when WTC was purchased by Providence Equity the coverage has been measurably cut down both on TV and internet in the United States. In Europe, where most of the races are Ironman branded but not owned, the sport of triathlon coverage on television has grown as the sport has with regional live coverage for most races. This can be clearly seen in State of Triathlon Finale by Slowtwitch.

STIn addition to growth via number of athletes in the sport, television coverage will drive non-endemic sponsorship for both the races and pro athletes.

Back to the pro field, the breakdown of male versus females has been traditionally and is consistently 65/35 at the half and full iron distance it would be logical to divide the races 72 70.3’s and 38 Ironman’s proportionally. This means there would be 14 Ironman’s, 5 Championships paying $80,000, 9 others paying $50,000 with all fields paying 10-deep. On the men’s side there would be 24 Ironman’s, again 5 Championships paying $80,000, 19 others paying $50,000.


Yes, every Ironman Champion will make at least $20,000.  This will allow pro’s to train “right” and make closer to a livable income off of racing less. For the 70.3 distance we would be looking at 26 Women’s events (6 Championships at $50,000, 11 paying $30,000, and 9 paying $15,000) with the men having 46 events (6 Championships at $50,000, 22 paying $30,000 and 18 paying $15,000). 70.3Purse Is this sexist? No, this will allow women to be the showcase at events, be the true leaders at the race and showcase their sponsors. In return there will be an increase in sponsor’s interest in sponsoring elite women. This will also allow the races to “potentially” have better officiating since there is only 1 pro race going on.

Not fair? Is it fair that there are 3 male age group Kona slots earned for every 1 female slot? Is it fair that the triathlon Olympic champion is not allowed to race at Kona without qualifying, but a speedskating Olympic champion and a chef can go without qualifying?

You want fair? Let’s do an exercise:
Name 10 current players for your dream team? In each sport NBA, PGA, MLS, NHL
Name 5 current players for your dream team? In each sport WNBA, LPGA, NWSL, NWHL

How did you do? The sports world is not created equal. Just go on Slowtwitch and see which pros are being talked about and who is out there voicing their opinions. It is pretty clear who the age groupers follow.

Another major issue I feel is that WTC is paying certain pro’s not to race other races instead of increasing prize purses. Yes WTC is paying certain pro’s to race exclusively their races. If you want athletes to promote your races, make the races better and pay better and we’ll talk about them!

Am I pot calling kettle black? Maybe a little but I go out and win races. Five years ago I was not racing WTC events, I was doing Lifetime and Rev3 races because they paid well for 5th and 6th place performances. Now that I have honed my skills and I am strong enough to win I do a few of the better paying WTC races. Wouldn’t you race them if you could win?

Fighting to Win and Punish,


  • starykowicz 20:49h, 23 September Reply

    What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • ryanpower_tri 20:55h, 23 September Reply

    RT @starykowicz: What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • MikeRiceIronman 21:34h, 23 September Reply

    RT @starykowicz: What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • GregReasoner 21:43h, 23 September Reply

    RT @starykowicz: What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • laurengroppi 21:45h, 23 September Reply

    RT @starykowicz: What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • luisbonillaIMTX 22:17h, 23 September Reply

    RT @starykowicz: What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • pcs_ronbo 22:23h, 23 September Reply

    A thoughtful look into the state of triathlon today

  • lactateharry 02:11h, 24 September Reply

    RT @starykowicz: What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • pam_mcgowan 08:36h, 24 September Reply

    RT @starykowicz: What do I have to say about @Challenge_Famil @REV3TRI @IronmanTri #triathlon? A LOT!

  • JordanBryden 12:54h, 24 September Reply

    Great Blog post up by @starykowicz ! Nice to see a intelligent pro offering real solutions #morethanjustfastlegs

  • LisaSmelser 18:22h, 24 September Reply

    State of Long Distance Tri, Part III via @starykowicz

  • Tom 20:12h, 24 September Reply

    How many of those sports you mentioned have pros and AGers competing in the same event? Would an IM (or other) event without pros still have enough people to operate, you bet. How about if it were a pro only event? Obviously, it wouldn’t have the numbers to be viable. AGers pay the bill for the pros to make money, why are the payouts negligible or non existent for top AGers? It is cool to race next to and with the pros but more pros need to start thanking the AGers for making it possible, however hard, for allowing them to make a living. I can see that the corporate BS would get tedious but where are you going to get away from that? Count your blessings….

  • Don Martin 13:48h, 25 September Reply

    My concern about separating out Men and Women is that there may be a decline in viewing and thus sponsorship for the Women. Personally I like to watch both race but history in areas like the TdF (versus the Tour de France Feminine), the decreased (comparatively) purses in Golf, the smaller stature of other Women’s Pro teams in areas like basketball all seem to indicate that separating women out into different events decreases their earning potential. Golf and Tennis don’t seem to be as bad, I think Tennis is better because Men and Women compete at the same time and doing things like “mixed doubles” helps them, although I rarely get to see mixed doubles on TV.

    Which gets me thinking. As a 62 year old Ager, I like to do Team Events with my 2 40 year old sons. In fact, I’m sitting on a Balcony in Cozumel right now, having done the Cozumel 70.3 (I swam, one son biked and my other son, in a racing wheelchair did the “run”). Anyway, I digress. Perhaps amongst the pros, having a mixed team event may provide some interest to the fan base? It would be interesting to see who would agree to race with whom. I’d love to see it.

  • ScottDeFilippis 15:04h, 25 September Reply

    I think a brilliant piece by Andrew! State of Long Distance Tri, Part III via @starykowicz

  • barno_john 19:36h, 25 September Reply

    RT @ScottDeFilippis: I think a brilliant piece by Andrew! State of Long Distance Tri, Part III via @starykowicz

  • Bryan Krabbe 13:54h, 02 October Reply

    Great idea. I believe they tried this once before in 2005. Lake Placid was a pro female race and Coeur d’Alene was a pro male race. Not sure why they stopped.

  • Scott Hacking 10:15h, 03 December Reply

    Thank you Andrew– I also hard your recent TRS interview… I am more and more of a fan every time I hear you speak or read your blog. Thanks for putting it out there, saying what needs to be said. I was shocked to hear what happened at KONA… that is just plain creepy.
    I myself have been outspoken about WTC on our local FB page, and some agree change needs to happen. I think all IM events should have PRO fields, and they should all should pay Ten Deep, even if #10 is $500. Let’s start treating people like people… Without people like you and TRS, alot of us would be in the dark about what’s going on… I look forward to more EPIC battles on the course… I really wish there was a camera crew filming you and TO last year!

  • Epic Debate with Thorsten Radde of | Andrew Starykowicz 13:26h, 09 June Reply

    […] pro fields will help grow the sport.  I have pushed for it for a long time and discussed it in State of Long distance triathlon Part III, and I look forward to seeing it’s success this fall.  My question now becomes, what is the […]

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