I’m not taking political sides, just pointing out how easy it would be to do and say something that would make it easier for people to support your brand. And while it should go without saying, I fully understand there are more important things in North Carolina than a bunch of triathletes finishing a full Ironman. People’s lives have been devastated by floods and talking about a race seems frivolous. But this blog is about triathlon, and training for my first Ironman was a life-changing experience for me. I didn’t lose my home, but I did temporary lose my sanity, some bad habits, and eventually my job. Ultimately, Ironman racing is about controlling ego and hopefully becoming a better person along the way. Maybe all of these interrupted races are a sign . . . and one Ironman can use to check its own ego.
When I heard about Ironman North Carolina being shortened to one 56-mile bike loop, I was bummed for everyone racing–especially the first-timers. I just can’t imagine if that happened on my first Ironman. It would have been a major blow to my ego.
I have no idea if there really are more natural disasters these days or if it just seems that way because of the proliferation of video and insane amounts of weather coverage. Likewise, I have no real facts about Ironman races being altered because of external forces, but it sure seems like it.
This year Ironman participants have been through postponements, cancelled swims, and altered bikes. Part of me was expecting Ironman to shorten the run at Chattanooga because of the heat, and I fear the huge number of DNFs will plant that idea for future races.
Ironman has created a monster that is losing focus on where it came from.
There’s obviously a growing interest in the sport and they seem to be adding races as fast as I buy Snickers bars. It’s capitalism at work, but the bigger you get, the more lawyers you need.
And those lawyers are there to do one thing . . . protect the stockholders.
While I fully get why they have to shorten the bike course at North Carolina, I have a hard time accepting their reticence softening the blow for people who have made this their first Ironman. This the triathlon-example of a product recall and the companies that handle those situations best are the ones who quickly admit there is a problem.
Here are a few things I think Ironman should do to make this right:
- Offer everyone in the race 50% off 70.3 vouchers for 2017. This would be a great way to infuse their shorter course races with energy, and build a more loyalty among people just dabbling in the sport as a bucket list goal.
- Give each first timer at North Carolina the option of a $50 entry voucher (bought on site this weekend) that’s good for any race (full or half) in 2018 as long as they sign up on the day registration opens. This allows Ironman to keep the money they have, take next year to figure it out, and offer a future refund that allows everyone to have another shot. I’m guessing 50% wouldn’t even use it but then it’s on them.
- Give anyone who is racing an Ironman for the second (or more) time 50% off a full in 2018. (Also to be used on day registration opens).
- Sell all IMNC merchandise for at least 50% off. They’d still be making money, but that would be Goodwill they desperately need right now.
I’m sure everyone racing North Carolina is doing whatever they can to make the best of a bummer situation. I’m reading stuff like, “We’ve trained, we’ve done the work, we should wear the medal with pride.” And while I agree with that, the reality just isn’t the same. Ironman has promised something it won’t deliver.
I also appreciate the optimism from everyone that’s pledged to finish the marathon, then get on their trainer for 3 hours to make it “real,” but that is just an unfortunate thought. I can’t imagine running through the finish line after a marathon, hearing “You are an Ironman,” then riding a trainer for 3 more hours?
Ironman has a powerful brand and they keep making decisions that are chipping away at their legacy. Frankly, they are acting like Donald Trump, when it would be so easy to smooth things over by admitting they’re wrong or can show compassion once in a while.
Ironman has a lot of money and giving back to its athletes when their dream is stripped seems like a small price to pay for the future of their brand. I don’t care what it says in the fine print of the disclaimer, give these people the product they bought, or deliver something of equal value.
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