While today was a great day of IM racing in Malaysia, this was also the first wakeup call for pro athletes racing Ironman races around the world.
The arrival of the new IM Pro '5% and 8% rules' hit the world of IM racing as a hard reality today.
There will be ton's of different views of what is right or wrong about these rules and today was a harsh reality to see the rules being actually implemented and at the same time for me to watch the pain on the bike for many athletes, the heath and humidty that almost makes you wonder if this 'toughest show on earth' is a healthy one for some who are not so well trained...
But for balancing sake...#1. IM Hawaii has a lot of pro's that do not make up let's say the top 50 pro athletes in the world for both the male and female race
WTC is trying to address this.
My heart was broken today when Hiro broke his best ever result and did not get qualified!
But these rules are set for reasons to address the IM Hawaii issue.
Problem also was that Marinio did not know about this new rule and was unaware of what he did with his very strong performance. Over breakfast this morning he mentioned to me he would have finished the race differently knowing that his strong result caused some serious casualities behind him....
Hiro, I feel big time unhappines and pain for you what happened today. At the same time you know how harsh the realities are to qualify for the Olympics because the world simply wants to see the top 50 best athletes in a sport based on a fair set of qualification rules.
You did the right thing today during the race by warning Marinio he was going to 'kill' your dreams and financial benefits for the guys behind you, but he didn't know about the rules...
You paid the prize for being the first one in the world to hit the triggers of these new 5% and 8% rules...
I'm really sorry for you!!#2. Holding back any price money from hard working pro athletes is day light robbery.
A bad pro will not receive any free accomodation, will not receive any transport allowance, will still have to pay his WTC lincense fee, so why punish these people so hard???
If you as the race organizer announce a US$50k prize money race, than you have no choice to pay out US$50k in price money.
Try and tell a couple of boxers or Ultimate Fight Champions after their fight "Sorry you won, but you did not win well enough to earn the full prize money... "
I think the organizers would think twice applying those new rules
Well, as I can read earlier in this topic, they have not met an angry Bella yet
So withholding price money is in 'my world' illegal and quite criminal and so this can be fixed in a few ways:
a. You have to ensure you don't financially 'kill' all those that could not keep up with the very best athlete of that day. If you send Chrissie to any race now, she will feel the pressure of racing too hard as she knows she litterly puts the competition 'out of business'. Nice feeling for doing so well... So put a 5% rule in based on the #2 finnisher.
b. If you really want to make those hurt that maybe should not be a pro or simply had a bad day in the office, then at least roll up the prize money to the #1 finisher. So Marinio today would have won another US$12k which was not paid to #3 - #8.
c. State your objectives very clear by communicating "Athletes and organizers, the prize money we will save with this new 8% rule goes to the top 15 pro athletes in IM Hawaii or we create some financial compensation for the top 3 age groupers in IM Hawaii". The race organizers have collected this prize money from the event sponsors already, so one must be fair and explain what will happen to these funds!
What was also painfully obvious today in Malaysia is the fact how badly these new rules have been communicated and explained around the world of triathlon. Very few people knew what was going on and in that sense IM Malaysia was a harsh confrontation with a new reality with everybody. It was an unpleasant experience for quite a few to say the least and made the roll down meeting this morning a lot less ahppy one then I have ever seen before!
So what's next:
1. There will soon be a first pro athlete that will sit down before the finnish shute. This will not be appreciated by the organizers, but sooner or later it will happen and do the sport no good. No fan likes to see the peloton sit down in a Tour de France etappe...
2. The number of pro athletes that can still reach IM Hawaii will indeed be reduced by some 50% and have the effect the organizer wanted to have. This is a reality that will happen and diffcult to argue with.
3. Possibly WTC will take all the prize money savings and redirect it back to the top 10 in Hawaii prize money. This will make the pro field even narrower and pay the few athletes top money. I have never seen this happen in tennis or golf, but it simply depends on what you want to achieve with these rules (e.g. build your brand, increase your revenue or reduce your cost base).
4. This whole matter could affect the M-Dot races a lot as athletes move over to other type of races, reduce the excitement of the various races with pro's and age grouper's along side at the race start. This in the end will not only affect individual races, but could also have an effect on the brand and should be very careful considered and evaluated.
5. The pro athletes should be proactive, constructive and positive
to work towards a win-win solution with WTC. There seems to be a letter being prepared by a few athletes I was told at the race party at the finish line, and that seems the best way to start a meaningful dialogue between WTC and the pro's which is in the interest of all parties.
I'm afraid the last word is not said about this topic...
Let's hope all parties are willing to accept that some change is needed, but we must all be flexible in funding the right solutions!