Are you an Ironman? That seems to be a rather simple question right? You either went 140.6 miles or you didn’t, but it really isn’t that simple. Recently I was asked if you can get the M-Dot tattoo only if you have done a WTC race. My first inclination was that the distance was the distance but the more I think about this the more I am certain that you should only get an M-Dot tattoo if you do a WTC event.
Where did this revelation come from? It started with my race at Rev3 Maine at the end of August. I absolutely loved the venue as it was the 2nd best place I have raced the 70.3 distance. Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico is still #1 in that realm followed by Maine and then Ironman 70.3 California and finally 70.3 Austin. So we can say that the place was terrific but let’s dig deeper than that. How about the race itself?
The race was a gorgeous course, but shouldn’t that be expected? I mean they are not going to schedule a 70.3 race through a run down downtown city that has abandoned buildings and the dregs of society on every street corner. So let’s not go over board here in that the course was just unbeatable and unlike any other. It was very pretty but I wouldn’t say it was better or worse than the other 70.3 races I have done.
The on course support. Here is where it is much different. At the 3 WTC events I did I saw SAG vehicles everywhere as well as plenty of referees on the course to do what they can to keep the race clean. Of course not every act of drafting is going to get caught so please hold your argument that you see tons of drafting at WTC events. I saw plenty of it at Maine and there were only 444 athletes in the 70.3 race.
And this brings me to the next point about Rev3 and why I think that if you do a 140.6 race that is not WTC sanctioned that getting the M-Dot tattoo or calling yourself an Ironman makes no sense. 444 athletes or what the WTC typically has in the M35-39 Age Group. There are claims that there were 1200 athletes at Maine, and while that may be true 2/3 of them raced the Olympic. Now my point about the 140.6 distance is this. The Ironman race starts with 2000-2500 athletes all going at the same time. There is something about having to battle your way through that many athletes in the swim then get through transition where there are hundreds of people in the changing tent, then fight them on the bike and blow past them on the run that makes the Ironman event an Ironman event.
When there are only 450 participants there is no battle for space. You have all the space you need. The claims that Ironman races are so tight and there is no space are true and that is because there are 2500 people there, not 450. I don’t know how many participate in the HITS series but I know for sure that it isn’t 2500 and there in lies the difference between Ironman and the others.
People love the bash WTC and the mistakes they have made with some of their races. It happens. It is a business run by human beings and last I checked human beings still make mistakes. Don’t believe me? How about Rev3 not having a single thing to eat after the Maine race for a vegetarian? Mistake? I would think so. How about the fact that the gentleman at the lobster cookout told me I could buy water? Probably a mistake as well since Rev3 should have had water for the participants away from the finish line so that there weren’t athletes walking back and forth into the finish area.
There is also this, from the Rev3 Facebook page:
We apologize for the embarrassing mix up on your hard earned finisher medals :(. we are working on the solution now and we will email all of the Full athletes with details about the solution very soon. We just have to pack up these trucks first!
Had this been the WTC there would have been a barrage of social media posts as to what a crass organization the WTC is and how they don’t care about their athletes. Listen, a mistake was made and Rev3 is fixing it and that is great. On the other hand let’s not pretend like the WTC wouldn’t do the same, but then again we don’t know that because the WTC has not had this type of error since I have been racing. See everybody screws up at some point, and then that brings me to the next point.
With the news that WTC cancelled IMNYC the barrage of tweets and Facebook posts was crazy. WTC noticed the error in their ways, whether it was for profit sake or not, they noticed it and pulled the event. Smart move in my opinion and much better than trying to half-ass the event. If people think that the WTC is so rotten how come races sell out in minutes and new races are popping up all over the place? Just this year they announced a 70.3 Raleigh and I for one am ready to head to North Carolina and race.
Ironman Wisconsin sold out in minutes and Ironman Lake Placid just recently sold out as well. This is the pre-eminent racing circuit for long course racing and that much cannot be argues. Yeah there is Challenge and there are new series like Rev3 and HITS that are just getting started but if it weren’t for WTC and its popularity there probably would not be another race series out there. This is what Ironman brings to the sport. When people think of triathlon they think Hawaii/Kona and not Cedar Point or Hunter Mountain. They don’t ask about whether or not you are going to be on TV at the Challenge Roth or Redman. They ask when they will see you on TV in. Hawaii, whether they know you have to be the best in the world or not. Ironman is synonymous with triathlon.
There are people out there that love Rev3, HITS, Challenge, etc and that is all fine and dandy. Support them and be behind them 100% for whatever reason but please just stop telling me how great the organization is and how poor of an organization WTC is, because it isn’t. It is the only organization that you can qualify for the Ironman World Championships at and is the only organization, in my mind, in which you can call yourselves an Ironman.