Friday, April 3, 2015

The Cost of Ironman - If You're Not Fast...And My Reason for Not Chasing Hawaii Anymore

Just the other day Logan told me I need to stop doing Ironmans. He said this because I was moaning and procrastinating about getting a run in - I was tired and didn't feel like putting in the effort. He then said "Hawaii Ironman can be your last one". I'm not surprised he said this as Logan loved Hawaii. Our brief conversation got me thinking though about the cost of chasing the Hawaii Ironman. It's not cheap! The sport, in general, comes with significant costs. Sure you can go without a wetsuit, ride an inexpensive bike, and throw on some old shoes and participate but, in today's competitive world, this does not quite work out. I've raced for 30+years so I've seen the evolution. The sport has changed. It was originally grass roots and organic - the goal was the journey and learning a lot about yourself. Over time it became more popular and, today, it seems to be more elitist. It's almost brought the stereotypical type-A arseholes out of the woodwork. An example of this: Someone finds out you've done IM; they have done IM - then the line of questioning centers around what races you've done, times achieved and, if they've posted better, you will then endure the summary of how great they are. With that said, there are still a great number of people out there that have right attitude towards triathlon and the lifestyle in general - these are the people I most gravitate towards.

 I did some calculating. I have completed 10 Ironmans. My first in 1989 cost $325 - my race this year cost $800. Now currently if I were to race in the US it would cost me more due to our weak dollar. In looking back at my racing over the past 5 years (5 Ironmans) I have spent an average of $3500 per race. This breaks down as:
- entry fee
-meals and entertainment onsite
-equipment including race nutrition
So bottom line I have spent $17, 500 on racing Ironman in the last 5 years - all in US funds. And this includes me driving to these events! 
 This now brings me to the Ironman Legacy Program. The Legacy Program was designed for athletes who just aren't fast enough to qualify outright. It basically rewards those loyal to the Ironman brand by allowing entry to the Hawaii Ironman after you've completed 12 Ironmans (only WTC events). You are eligible if you've done the 12, have never done the Hawaii race, have 3 years in succession of completing an Ironman leading into your entry, and need to complete an Ironman before heading to your Hawaii race. Now some might say "work harder and qualify". Easier said than done. I'm currently in the last year of the 45-49 male age group. My race this year is in Mont Tremblant. Last year there were 8 Kona slots in my age group. The following is what I would need to do to capture 8th place (based on last year's results):
swim = 59 minutes
bike = 5:20
run = 3:33
Overall time = 10 hours
I will be aging up next year. There were 6 slots available in the 50-54 age group in 2014. The times for 6th at Tremblant are as follows:
swim = 1 hour
bike = 5:25
run = 3:35
Overall = 10:10
My best time was 11:09 and that was at my healthiest. With the injury challenges, work and family life a 10 hour Ironman is not in the cards.
I recently found out this year's Legacy Program had 225 entries. Last year there were 170. I called the WTC office and was told that, to maintain Legacy eligibility, an athlete is required to maintain their validation. In other words, instead of having 3 years of Ironman racing succession, it will now be 5-6 years. Because the program is popular there is now a waiting list - those that did not get in last year (70 of the 170 entries as there are 100 Legacy spots) are guaranteed to get in this year - that leaves 30 out of 225 to get in this year with 195 remaining on the wait list. So, based on this, there is at least 2 years to wait with the Legacy program all while maintaining a streak of an Ironman per year.
If you break the streak for any reason - injury, family crisis, lose your job - then you must begin a new round of 3 years of doing one Ironman per year. The trend for Legacy entry is going to continue to grow and so it will likely be a 3-4 year wait to get to Hawaii based on the program criteria. The following is an estimate on what it will take me to do Kona through the Legacy Program:
number of races to get a Legacy spot = 2 more
number of races to maintain eligibility = 4 (based on current outlook, may be more)
number of races once Kona spot secured = 2 (validation race plus Hawaii)
Total races plus cost not including Hawaii (7) = $21, 000
Cost of Hawaii including travel costs = ~$8, 000
Cost of equipment and support over this time = ~$3, 000 - $4, 000
Overall approximate total for me to do Hawaii through Legacy = $32, 000
My goal moving forward? Enjoy whatever racing I do and come to terms with Kona. It's not all bad. I've been to the Big Island 3 times and watched the 2012 World Championship live. I've swam, biked and run most of the course so I know what it feels like in training. I plan on going back in the next year or two for vacation.

I'm really looking forward to Mont Tremblant! I know a few people who are doing the race so that is always cool. It's a great destination and it is one I can drive to. In addition it is in Canada so no bad exchange rates. I will have fun with the training and enjoy the process.

 I will never give up on doing Ironmans. I just won't be doing them in successive years moving forward. I'd like to do some racing that falls between sprints to 70.3s, some trail running races and some adventure racing. Mostly I will stay local but also some cool destination racing would be fun.

 I will return to the Big Island whenever possible. I need to get in the other Hawaiian Islands in as well.

 Alii Drive will always be there. I may take up the Legacy pursuit somewhere down the line or maybe I won't. At this point the cost is not worth it. I want to do so many other things and travel to many destinations with the family. I also want to spend more time doing family stuff - camping, vacations that don't include racing, and get togethers with friends doing other activities like canoeing, hiking, cross country skiing, etc.
I will do Ironman in the future but it will be more bucket list - like Challenge Roth for instance.

 Yesterday was World Autism Day. I wore blue in honour of it and in honour of this great guy. Logan will be 12 this year and I want to spend a lot more time with him as he navigates the teenage years with Aspergers. I get a kick out of him and I want to be around him more. My twins are in their early 20s and are out of the house but they will still need to see their Dad occasionally and not just in text form (haha).

 More camping will definitely be on the list!!
 I want to spend more time with this chick! Sara has been ultra-supportive throughout my Ironmans. I want to reciprocate. She doesn't feel the urge to do an Ironman but I will support her fully should she decide to do so. I'd like to do more training and racing with her. With Logan getting older we will be able to train more together. We can manage shorter races and training without impacting home life a great deal - something that's unavoidable with Ironman.

 We're definitely going to go on a non-race vacation!!!

 Now that I've gotten all that off my chest let's start the PITY PARTY!!!!

Ain't that that truth!

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