Pardon me, is that $1000 falling out of your pocket?

Yesterday, I was sick. I am still sick today, but I actually managed to get enough sleep last night (unlike the night before) that I will be doing some work from home while trying to move up my doctors appointment. It’s nothing long-term serious, just sinus pressure and headaches so bad that I can’t hardly keep my eyes open. Sudafed, which got the job done earlier this week, was not cutting it Wednesday night, and I woke up at 3 AM, and was awake until almost 8:30. I tried working from home, but sleep finally got me around the time I’d actually have to be productive so I bagged the day and slept. Combining that with the recent memory issues, and I’m really glad to be seeing the doctor today.

When I did wake up, and could manage to look at the computer for a little bit to alleviate some of the boredom that comes with staying home; I saw that the WTC was up to it’s usual tricks. This time in the form of “Ironman Access“, a program designed to allow people who evidently have more money than sense, to move to the front of the line for race signups, ahead of even volunteers and current year racers. It even included the ability to sign up for a couple of 2012 races. Why someone would want WTC to be able to hold onto their money for almost 2 years is beyond me.

With race entry fees going up each year, the every increasing difficulty for the “average triathlete” to register for the most sought after IM races due to a reduction in slots, and other more recent concerns (5150, black-out dates, etc), it was the wrong time for WTC to push for even more money. Especially as this program at least looked to the community as something that would reduce the number of entries available to the general public.

The program was so universally reviled that there was a groundswell of negative feedback on internet forums, Ironmans Facebook page, and evidently their email inbox. So swift and strong was the triathlon community response that after trying to mount a small defense via their Facebook page, WTC eventually gave in and cancelled the policy.

In announcing the change, WTC President Ben Fertic released a video that you can see here.

What really struck me about this video is how pissed off this guy looks to be making it. It made me firmly believe even more that this change was made very begrudgingly, and that this program may have even been Mr. Fertic’s idea. His body language and tone are definitely not conveying any sense of sincerity whatsoever.
What hit me next is how distorted the view of the triathlon community WTC has. Their supposed motivation for this policy is according to their numbers 2500 paid for registration slots go unused each year. Talk about bending your statistics; a majority of unused slots are a result of injury, accident, and other unforeseen circumstance that prohibits the athlete from attending. Yes, there are some hard core triathletes who will register for 3 races before they fill up to be sure they get at least one of their target races, but the number of 
folks who do this do not comprise the majority of age groupers. 
In fact, this entire line of reasoning seems to contrived as a defense for instituting the Ironman Access policy to begin with. If WTC were actually worried about filling unused slots, they would institute a transfer program. Transfers are common throughout the race industry. Can’t use a race entry? Simply find someone to take it off your hands, or let the race director know, and they’ll find someone for you. Usually this is handled through some sort of waitlist process, which is another standard race feature WTC has chosen to completely ignore. Through a simple process similar to how TicketMaster handles the season ticket holder resale policy in other sports, you could automate the transfer process while keeping scalpers out of the loop, and making more money on transfer fees the whole time. See how screwed up WTC is? I can actually use TicketMaster (a greedy monopolistic company in its own right) as an example of good corporate practices in relation to the folks at Ironman.
In the end, the “social media uprising” against Ironman Access was successful. But it’s just a matter of time before WTC comes up with yet another way to scalp a bunch of money from athletes in a way that isn’t good for the average athlete or triathlon as a whole. Yet another reason that Mooseman will likely be our last WTC race.
Notes:
- I had a terrific run on Wednesday evening. I started week 5 of my Couch to 5k again, and in the first 5 minute segment, I managed to do half a mile. My second 5 minute segment was just slightly slower, but again it was fairly close to half a mile. The last 5 minutes I was a good bit slower. Sadly, I think this run is what led me on the downhill path to where I wound up just a couple hours later in terms of how I felt.
- I have a doctors appointment today, and the results of that will determine whether or not I run in tomorrows 5k. I’m feeling better today than yesterday, but I clearly have a sinus infection and I don’t want to do anything that will prolong my illness. But if the doctor says it’s ok, then I might give it a go.

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