Going into this year I knew that one of the perks of being a pro was that I could rearrange my race schedule on short notice since most races do not require a long lead time to sign up (typically ~3 weeks, if there is a deadline at all). However, after several years of age group racing which generally required mapping out the next year’s races 12-18 months in advance – and generally not being able to just jump into most races since they’d fill up – old habits die hard and I still found myself planning this year well in advance of deadlines.
Before IM Boulder, it was the plan to also race IM Louisville to the schedule to see how I’d respond to racing in that 3 week interval. However, as Boulder got closer rumors of changes within WTC were surfacing. Ultimately, these changes were announced during the race, but my new plans had already been in the works – I’d be racing Challenge Penticton instead of IM Louisville on August 22nd.
Note: apparently I wasn’t the only female looking for a Boulder-take-2!
From the business perspective, which is what guided the initial change of heart, this is a much smarter move. Flying from Denver to Seattle is easy (and cheap!). From Seattle I’ll be able to carpool with blog-twin Cathleen up to Penticton which is awesome – it’s always nice to have the company of friends at races. I’ll also be given a homestay in Penticton – something that (as far as I know/have requested) is not ever an option for me with WTC! Challenge races also pay $75,000, 10 deep in the prize purse. At IM Louisville, I’d be looking at $25,000 going 6 deep. My odds in Canada are definitely more favorable.
From a racing perspective, while Penticton can also get quite hot (101 the other day!!!), I have only heard rave reviews about the course and location for the race. And, while Louisville will always have a special place in my heart since that was my first IM, it’s no secret that Louisville has a reputation as a sufferfest – I’ve had that day there too! So, Penticton seems like a great place to give myself a second chance to show the fitness I have this summer.
And finally, from a personal perspective, I do feel more of a persuasion to race Challenge races at this point because I think they are doing great things for the sport, professional and amateurs alike. The changes that WTC recently announced is a big change for the professional field. While this change may be in their best interest as a business, it’s certainly not in the best interest for developing future generations of long-course triathletes. The fact that they do not want to go beyond their call as a business and help the sport grow and develop is troubling to me. I like to believe that it is more than possible to run a successful business and still have your heart in the right place – if I didn’t I wouldn’t have gone into business with myself!
I am quick to admit that I don’t have all the answers as to how to accomplish that. However, I do know that it would be easy for WTC to create a “minor league” of pro racing, in sorts. They could throw small prize purses at “B” races for people who need to develop so that one day we can advance to the “kona-tiered” race fields. Without that, if I continue to race WTC races, the hole I could find myself in financially simply wouldn’t make sense.
I don’t want to get into a discussion of WTC-bashing or the like. I still believe that Ironman races do great things for the age group athletes in the sport, and I’d never stop sending the athletes I coach to these races. Generally speaking these races are safe, smooth race experiences. But as a professional athlete, I have a hard time racing for a company that, admittedly, doesn’t care about the future and development of the sport.