As of today, you can sign-up for Ironman races before the rest of the world. It's called Ironman Access and the benefits (listed HERE) include a second chance a Kona lottery slot.
Awesome you say? Well, it comes at a price. For one year it will lighten your wallet by $1000.00. Yes, not $100.00, but add a zero to get $1000.00.
But let’s think about this. These days the more popular Ironman events (most in the US) will sell out FAST after first day of opening to the public. Most events will allow you to volunteer the year before in order to access early registration the day after the event on site. So, if you take a trip to witness an Ironman race, you’re looking at gas/flight money, rental cars, hotels, meals, etc (unless you live in the same town as one). That could easily top $500 and add in your time, it might be worth paying $1000.000 just for the chance to get a slot in your target IM event without leaving your house.
But, on top of that $1000.00 you also have to pay for registration of the event and any other fees. It only allows you the opportunity to sign up early. No discounts for entry fees.
Notice also the convenience that this comes out October 27, 2010, and you can sign up early for IM Florida 2011 if you are a member by 11:59pm PDT on Sunday, October 31, 2010.
Talk about cashing in! WTC has been a juggernaut in the triathlon world. IM and IM 70.3 events have fast become THE events to race. They have now added the 5150 series for Olympic distance events. To capitalize on the wave of success, they have now added this membership that allows even more IM slots to be taken up before “regular” people that can’t fork over $1000.00 and/or travel to a site can enter. Getting an IM spot will now be even more difficult.
You know why? Because people will pay the extra money for the comfort of knowing they can get in for sure. The sport of triathlon is comprised of middle class participants with the extra disposable income to support their habit. The sport can support this membership idea because the participants can and will pay for it.
The email announcement lists that the membership has a capacity and will be closed once it’s reached. That by itself will create a “sell-out” mentality that will undoubtedly bring out the credit cards faster than McCormack racing for the IM Kona finish line.
Props to WTC for recognizing this opportunity. You don’t have enough digits to count the number of IM triathlete hopefuls that gets their hopes dashed because their event sold out in an hour. This is supply and demand at its core definition.
You cannot hate or blame WTC for this move. That’s how capitalism works. But, hopefully we don’t see a day where you HAVE to be an IRONMAN ACCESS member to race ANY Ironman or WTC branded event. Tack that on to the mandated USAT membership and you might start to see the first decline in the sport or an increase in the more grass roots event organizers.
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, and is a married father of one (soon to be two), owner of three dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001. Ryan is also the Kansas Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughs HERE. Contact Ryan at: email@example.com
*All opinions expressed in this story are by the author and are not necessarily those of EMT.