Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Case for Celebrity, Lottery and Legacy Ironman Hawaii Slots

After watching the GoPro Ironman Hawaii World Championship recap broadcast on NBC, I've had multiple conversations with age group Ironman athletes.  Every single one scoffed at the idea of a "celebrity" doing Ironman Hawaii. 

I maintain that Ironman and 70.3 events (and perhaps even International/Olympic distance events) - are considered "fringe" sports by the general public.  Most people won't even do a sprint triathlon with a pool swim because they think it is too hard and requires too much training.  The triathlon community needs to do more to bring that thinking around to a marathon mentality; "You can do it if you train."  We can do better in making training plans less daunting.

Here's why you should want them there:

1) To the general global public - doing exercise regularly is a challenge.  To race, even the local 5k or 10k is a big step.  Sign up for an Ironman?  Damn, you are nuts.  We've all heard those comments.  After my first Ironman, I was told I was "insane" at least 180 times from family to co-workers who knew what I was training for.  There was no shortage of people telling me how nuts Ironman is.  These celebrity slots and "everyman" lottery slots humanize Ironman to people who think only genetic freaks can complete an Ironman.  I'm glad that A guy like Hines Ward- a Super Bowl MVP and exceptional athlete - was humbled by people who have significantly more challenging lives - even with VIP coaching, equipment, training trips and money behind him.  It shows how tough those of us who consider ourselves Ironman athletes, because nearly all of us don't have that kind of backing. 

2) Lottery slots give "everyman" athletes a shot at doing IM Hawaii.  To most of us, Kona always was/is the holy grail of triathlon.  Giving someone a shot to lottery in gives hope to everyone who wants to participate.  The lottery humanizes the Ironman more and allows people to believe when they see these stories.  Come on, admit it, you cried when you heard the story of the dad who lost his little girl at Sandy Hook.  That was a great story in my opinion and that would be lost if we eliminate the lottery.  Luckily, the lottery must stay due to contractual agreements.

3) Legacy lottery is new.  This is the program that rewards people for racing a lot of Ironman races. I think this is great.  We all have friends who have missed "earning it" via qualification by seconds.  Face it - there are people in this world that won't qualify for any number of reasons.  Those folks deserve a shot.  My friend Matt was a legacy guy this year.  He didn't get the mumuku winds, but he did get some wind heat and vog.  (The heat and vog this year were the worst I can remember in the eight times I've been fortunate enough to be a participant or race marshal on the island.)

I need to make a call.
NBC! You want me over here for a better shot?
My own opinion on the NBC recap of Kona?  I thought they did a great job.  Emmy worthy work.  You can find the live broadcast of the ENTIRE race on YouTube and you can also find the NBC recap there too.  My comment for NBC Sports - the marshals and referees are also actors in your "show".  Keep in mind that you wouldn't ask Ed Hochuli to "get out of the shot" with a regulator/producer on a motorcycle.  You also would never ask Peyton Manning to move to a certain side of the field because he was "ruining" a shot.

Happy base training or time away!

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