Ironman 70.3 World Championships were this past weekend, and they yielded us some amazing performances. My Valor Triathlon Project (and recent age group national champ) Ericka Hachmeister earned herself a shiny new PR with a 4:45. I got to track so many friends to great races. It looked like an all around amazing day. It’s so fun for me to see how age groups play out and I especially loved how people loved the venue. It’s gorgeous!
Two things surprised me. I was surprised that people were surprised to see so much drafting. I was also surprised that people were surprised at the lack of coverage.
I have done several 70.3 world championships and each time I did compete in them I walked away feeling disappointed at the amount of drafting. One event I did even employed a time trial start which I thought would fix it. It didn’t.
I have been in this sport for 20 years. Drafting is not a new problem. Many have tried to come up with solutions to drafting. from giving out penalties to GPS tracking devices, I have heard it all. I have seen none employed. I have yelled at athletes on the course. Doesn’t work. I have given up time to avoid the packs. I walk away upset.
The bottom line is this. You have athletes with similar abilities, swimming 28-30 minutes exiting the water together in each age group. These athletes also tend to ride the same, 2:30-2:40. You put that many athletes together and they will draft. Not all of them. Absolutely not. And let me be clear I wasn’t there. I just heard the typical stories of peletons and such. Seems Vegas was the one venue that got this issue right.
My dad always said this: people who cheat on the field tend to cheat off the field. Each time I have studied a cheater, I have found that to be true.
So what do you do? You have two choices. If you are heading to a world championship expect there to be drafting and expect nothing to be done about it. Officials are sparse and they seem to do what they can. You can also do your best to ride clean. But know this going into the event. WTC doesn’t seem interested in helping this issue. And maybe they are, I am certainly not part of that conversation. Don’t give energy to the drafters and race your own race. That is all you can do.
Want to see age group drafting? Wait until you get to Kona.
The other thing you can do…. is what I do… and it’s a lot less sexy. I don’t go to those events. I don’t make them part of my life. Each time I have gone I have walked away disappointed because of the drafting that exists, and I want to walk away from a race knowing I gave my best and I had fun doing it. When the fun-0-meter drops…. I will go elsewhere. My 2015 season is filled with off beat races that seem to have excellent competition and don’t seem to be known for drafting. I am past the point in my career where I feel the need to be part of a world championship. I am part of a sport I love and adore. I have watched what WTC has done to a piece of this pie…. again I have been here for 20 years. If I don’t like what they do….. I stay away from their events. If you goal is to be part of all of that….. I will cheer you on and help you in any way I can.
I am one person. I am not interested in starting a movement. I don’t have the time or the interest in fighting big corporate people for the good of my fellow athletes. There are a few athletes who are…. and they do it well. I just don’t. They fight the fight against WTC and prize money for pros and live coverage and many other things. I love a good David versus Golliath battle and I will be interetsed to see if it has any effect.
I have 99 problems and WTC isn’t one of them. (I actually don’t have 99 problems but you get the point). I have more to do in my life than worry about WTC and what they do. People in this world are fighting big personal fights against cancer and ALS. There are soldiers in this world putting their lives on the line so that our biggest issue is WTC. My feet have always been firmly on the ground and I need to put my energy into where it belongs. Again if WTC is your fight, go for it. I am glad someone is taking up the issue!
The only gripe I wish to fight with WTC about is the future fertility of the women they are forcing to race multiple Ironmans a year for. For a professional woman to get to Kona they have to race several Ironmans a season and do well. This isn’t healthy. I truly believe that if WTC is going to require women to do that they need to contribute to the IVF these women will need when they decide to have a family down the road. They are literally sacrificing their CHILDREN to play the game of a corporate giant.
You don’t think that’s happening? Talk to some of these women in 5-8 years. I am watching it happen right in front of me. Anyone with a basic understanding of ex/phys knows that. So there is a cause to champion if you need one!
The lack of coverage for world championship events? Not new. Old news. Tracker doesn’t work great. The apps sometimes update and sometimes don’t. I have given up on hitting refresh. I rely on Twitter to give me the real deal. I don’t have time to be frustrated about it.
Maybe in my old age I have grown complacent regarding these things. But maybe….. in my old age I have decided that life is too worth living than to allow these things to weigh my heart down. For me there is great competition out there, I can find it and continue to love what I am doing. Does that mean I will never do a WTC event or a 70.3 World Championships? Oh God know. I likely will. But I will go in KNOWING there is drafting and issues and such. to me it’s part of the package.
If they ever do make it draft legal I will be there too. If they do that be prepared to get a new bike because your current $8,000 time trial bike is illegal in the draft legal world. And it’s dangerous. My biggest issue with drafting is not the actual drafting, it’s that triathletes don’t do it right and have the most dangerous set up to do it in. And that’s all fun and games until you have a broken neck.
Life is too short in my opinion to get caught up. Think of how we get caught up in the small and trivial things in every day life. Step back, take a deep breath…. the world is nuts and let your corner of it be filled with everything you want that’s good.
If you fight the fight don’t take it too seriously, even if this is serious to you. at the end of the day it’s a sport. Sport is important in my life and it’s important in yours. Don’t let it become the dark cloud.
Take a look at this photo:
These are 3 of my Valor Triathlon Project athletes after the Finger Lakes Triathlon (1,000 athletes and sold out by the way). Look at their faces. This sport is about celebrating life, celebrating performances whatever those performances are, celebrating teammates and friends.
And I can’t think of any spot on a podium that tops that.