The chance to compare one race organization to another comes this weekend. I am heading to Maine to race in the inaugural Rev3 OOB Maine. This is a Half-Ironman and will provide me with a first hand taste of how things are done by Rev3. I have seen the acknowledgement of how well run the Rev3 races are and how family friendly they are when they are compared to the Ironman brand and WTC.
I am a very big fan of WTC and the Ironman brand. Whenever I am asked what race a person should do I immediately go to an Ironman branded event. Why? It is because they have been doing it longer and have been able to iron out issues that will show up. Don’t get me wrong issues will still show up, as that is inevitable with 2000-3000 people racing a triathlon. The fact of the matter is that they put on dozens of races per year and are still adding more to their lineup so they will have had the opportunity to work out the logistics.
The second reason is the crowds. When I volunteered at Ironman Texas two years ago I could not help but get swept up in the atmosphere. I got so into the race that I wound up registering for the event in 2012 even though I had only wanted to race Ironman Arizona. It got to the point that while standing at the finish line all I could think of was crossing the finish line of an Ironman.
The third reason is that they have the full 140.6 distance race in just about any part of the country, or world for that matter that you can think of. Want to race in Canada you have two choices. How about the Northeast? Well there is Lake Placid to go to. In the south you can race IM Florida or IM Texas. Southwest? IM Arizona. You get the picture. If you want to go to a race you can.
Now don’t get me wrong about the WTC business. I understand that they make decisions that can be controversial to the athlete and public as a whole. The thing about this is that they ARE a business and let’s not forget that for a second. Their whole reason for being is to be profitable, just like any other company. And like any other company there will be missteps and we can only hope they fix those missteps along the way.
I have heard a lot or reasons for why Rev3 is better from the family atmosphere to the price. Now I can say this. When I finished Ironman Texas my wife was right at the finish line along with all my friends that came down to be a part of this race. I did not cross the finish line with her but you know something…..I didn’t have to. It was not a situation that I felt incomplete because I did not cross the finish line with my wife. If my step-son had been there would I have felt differently? No. I can say that with certainty because had he been there he would have been with Karen who was a total of 15 feet away from the finish line. So that being said the fact that you can cross the finish line holding the hand of your child at a Rev3 event does not hold that much of an advantage over WTC for me.
Price point also becomes the other argument. I paid $675 to race Ironman Texas in 2013. The Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 race (which by the way is their only 140.6 race) costs $575 if you register after July 24, $525 if you register between October and July and $425 if you register within a month of the race. Not a huge disparity unless you know you are going to head back to the race. For the HITS Triathlon series they have introduced a new pricing structure which will undoubtedly have an impact on the triathlon world. Their pricing is as follows: $600 1 month prior to race day; $450 with 1-3 months to go prior to race day; $300 with 3-4 months to go and $150 is over 4 months left prior to the event.
Again, their pricing is a bit cheaper but what are you getting? This was my first thought when I saw the new pricing structure. Are they just trying to lure people in so they know that they can host a race the next year and have it be profitable. Remember this is a business and they are not a charity, so they are doing this to make money. Are they doing this because it really only costs $150 to put on a 140.6 race per athlete? I highly doubt it is that cheap per athlete.
Then lets talk about the crowds and the participants. The most that have participated in the 140.6 distance for the HITS Triathlon series has been 24. Let’s assume that each participant bring 4 people with them then you have less than 100 spectators at the finish line. Rev3 Cedar Point last year had 304 participants (from what I can gather.) Again, lets us 4 people per athlete and that is a total of 1216 spectators. Ironman branded events generate anywhere between 2000 and 3000 participants and tens of thousands of spectators.
This is not to say that Ironman and WTC is that much better than HITS or Rev3, but just serves as a point of reference for where I am coming from before I head to Maine this weekend. This is an inaugural event for Rev3 and should have all the bells and whistles and I am very excited about that. I am excited to be back on the Northeast and to get to meet MattyO, Heather, Jen, Laura, Donna and a whole host of other athletes. That is what is going to make the race.
What are your thoughts on WTC versus Rev3 versus HITS versus and independently run race?
Before you answer that question read this quote from Kevin of Ironman By Thirty after he finished IM Mont-Tremblant yesterday:
Jason. You HAVE to do this race. Fucking amazing. THIS is what sets Ironman apart. Knock it all you want but they have their shit together and put on a ridiculous event.