Should A 70.3 Finish Be A Requirement For A 140.6 Start?

Should A 70.3 Finish Be A Requirement For A 140.6 Start?

Last week I read a post on Facebook that mentioned that World Triathlon Corporation should require a 70.3 finish before allowing an athlete to start a 140.6 race. On the surface this seems to make sense but the more I thought about it the more I disagreed with this idea. The statement was made based on the safety of the athlete at the 140.6 distance as it seemed that a lot of people were not prepared for the race of this distance.  While I am in full agreement that it seems that every Tom, Dick and Harry is getting into the sport to just tick a box and say that they finished the distance, I do not begrudge those that just want to race one time and that is all. I get it, triathlon and specifically the 140.6 distance is not for everybody. That being said taking the approach that I just 'need to get through it' is what causes issues on the course for those that are racing the event. In addition to that it is just not safe to take the laissez-faire attitude of a finish is a finish and not train for the event. Again, on the surface the thought process makes sense but for practical reasons this is not truly enforceable. Why? Here are my reasons: • The 70.3 race and the 140.6 race are completely different animals. At a WTC event the 70.3 race is started based on age-groups. This means that you may have up to 400 athletes starting at the same time. At the 140.6 distance, in many of the WTC races, there are 2000-2800 athletes all starting at the same time. The anxiety difference is immense. As an athlete who has started and finished five(5) 70.3 events and four(4) 140.6 events I can tell you that I have no anxiety in the 70.3 event but have been a wreck at the longer distance. • An 'accomplished' athlete may not need or want to race the shorter distance and thus would be eliminated from racing the 140.6 event. Take me for example. I have not raced a Half-Ironman since Puerto Rico in March of 2013 and have no plans on racing one in 2015 either. That means that it will have been two full calendar years PLUS since the last time I raced a 70.3 event and would be forced to race one if this 'rule' were to be enacted.  In my mind having to race a 70.3 can lead to the potential for injury. I have set up my race calendar in 2014 and again in 2015 to have a 100 mile ultra trail race at the start of the year and an Ironman at the end of the year. The 100 Mile race will take approximately one month to recover from and then asking me to jump into a training program to be successful at a 70.3 doesn't add up. If you say that I can just add it to the 140.6 training cycle I will disagree with you. To me, the notion of build/taper/race/recover in the middle of the Ironman training cycle does not add up. I would rather focus for 13 straight weeks with intense training that has the proper recovery built-in than to have to go through the race process for a race that is not important to me. • Who will be in charge of monitoring the 70.3 finishes? For example, if you race a Challenge Family event as a tune-up for a WTC event who manages that? USAT? The organization running the event? If so, couldn't WTC include a provision that states that the qualifying 70.3 has to be one of their events and couldn't Challenge Family do the same? If the race organizations agree that it is ok to have the qualifying race be from another organization then would it not make sense that the 140.6 organization would have to do additional work to confirm that finish meaning a chance for higher entry fees now that there is a process in place to confirm the finish? Are we prepared for the increase in fees for 140.6 events? • Speaking of increased fees. Requiring the 70.3 finish means that the athlete has to be prepared to pay $350 for the race plus additional travel fees, taking time off from work and then paying for another 1 day USAT license if they are not paying for the year. All of this makes an expensive sport all the more expensive and yet there is still no way to prove that finishing a 70.3 is a predictor of success at the 140.6 distance. If there were a direct correlation between the two distances maybe, MAYBE having the finish as a requirement makes sense but to me they are two different races.  In the past year WTC has taken steps to make their events safer for the athletes with rolling swim starts or seeded swim starts.  They have also taken precautions on race day from unforeseen circumstances such as what happened at Ironman Lake Tahoe and Ironman Florida. I believe that there will continue to be changes to the sport as it continues to grow in popularity but I do not think that creating qualifiers that do not have the potential to predict safety or race results is the answer.

What Do You Think About Having A 70.3 Finish As A Qualifier To Start A 140.6 Event?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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