The running joke that is Ironman registration
The new registration process for Ironman events is a bit of a running joke in the triathlon community. Everyone who wants to sign up or has signed up probably has a story about how they (a) tried/failed, (b) tried/got lucky, or (c) have plans to take luck out of the equation.
Personally, I fall into this last category: I’m volunteering at this year’s Ironman AZ so I can sign up the following day. However, think about how ludicrous this is: in order to sign up for an event where I’ll be paying ~ $500 just for the event (not including hotel, airfare/bike transport, etc.), I have to travel out there the year before the event and pay for a hotel, airfare, etc. All this for the privilege of subjecting my self to 10+ hours of swimming, biking and running. Wow.
Lake Placid sign-ups didn’t even make it to the online stage this year which means that if you wanted to sign up, you had to travel to Lake Placid just for the opportunity to compete in next year’s event.
Personally, I think this new system is horrible and will significantly inhibit the growth of the Ironman events. Think about it: unless you’re certain you want to do an event, would you really invest the time/money involved just to sign up (let alone compete)? Plus, even if you’re certain that you want to do it, what if you don’t have the financial ability to do so or can’t get the time off to take a “vacation” to the event just to sign up?
The sport of triathlon is expensive enough as it is–making the sport rather financially discriminatory–and this new system only adds to the discriminatory impact. I’m lucky in that my only challenge is the time aspect (as in getting the day off) whereas many people can’t afford to take the day off for such a luxury, let alone pony up the extra money involved with just signing up.
I’m not sure what a proper solution to the problem is, but my guess would be that they need to go back to an all online sign-up which implements a lottery-system, with an exception for race volunteers (as an incentive to volunteer for the race). The lottery system would simply be a day-after lottery signup process. Previous year’s competitors could be allotted an extra “ball” in the lottery, but everyone would have to be selected by lottery.
Realistically, although there may be other ways to do this, I think this would be the most fair. It would give everyone a chance to sign up, and the limited lottery entry timing would increase everyone’s odds and would prevent somebody who decides to sign up four months after the race from winning a spot over someone who wanted to do it from the start. I just hope that the organizers of IM realize that they are doing a disservice to the sport with their new system and are simply further alienating those with less financial capacity from participating in the sport.