The Re-Bucket List

 

Back in 2008, I decided to cross off a some of my bucket list items.  First, I wanted to run a marathon.  Secondly, I wanted to do an Ironman.  And so I did.

My first marathon was along the Atlantic shore here in Jacksonville as part of the “26.2 with Donna – the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer”.  That particular race (which still runs every February) was a fantastic initial marathon.  Pancake flat.  A couple of miles on the beach.  Great crowd support.  Amazing women and men who had beat (or were in the process of beating) breast cancer.  My finishing time was not great (and really isn’t important)…but I was successful in crossing that item off my list.  Incidentally, back in 2010, I did a “Ten Questions With…” interview with Donna Deegan – the founder of the race.  Click HERE to read that interview.

JPS

On the run course at IMFL in 2009

Following that marathon experience, I signed up to race Ironman Kentucky, in Louisville.  I was severely underprepared for that race.  I tried to train without a real plan.  I didn’t think that the hills would be all that rough.  I didn’t devote as much time as I should have to training.  As a result, the race was a disaster!

I got into the swim expecting to have some downstream current.  There wasn’t any.  I sort of freaked out mid-swim and ended up having to do some backstroke and breaststroke.  I finished the swim in close to 1:40 and then headed out on the bike.  So….in case you were wondering….Louisville is NOT FLAT.  I was seemingly going up or down the entire time.  I tried to take my time and pace myself, but by the end of the bike, I was completely gassed.  I started out on the run and very quickly determined that that leg of the race would be a combination of running and walking.  By the time I got through 13 miles, it was more walking than anything.  I made it through 18 miles and got pulled off the course.

Upon returning to the transition area – completely devastated about my performance – I called home to speak with my wife.  Believe it or not, she had already signed me up for Ironman Florida – in just about six weeks’ time!  She really wanted me to cross off that bucket list item!

And so, in November 2009, I toed the line in Panama City Beach for IMFL.  The swim was much better than in Louisville – even despite the Gulf being seriously choppy.  The bike was great – much more along the lines of what I was accustomed to.  I did a modified Galloway approach on the run – running 3 or 5 minutes and then walking 1.  And best of all, I finished!  The time was not great (15 hours and change), but…..I FINISHED!

Cross that baby off the list!

Except that baby is back on my list again.

See, for the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about doing an iron distance race again.  Sometimes when I’m in a rough spot on a run, I call up a mental picture of crossing the finish line at IMFL or remember that feeling of accomplishment.  But, I’ve held off on actually doing another race.

Things started to get serious last year – my friend and I were talking about doing a full.  It was on his bucket list, after all.  Plus, he wanted to do one before he turned 50, and time was running out.

We had our eyes set on doing Beach to Battleship in November 2016.  This Wilmington, NC, race had developed a fantastic reputation for being a super-high quality independent iron distance race.  The price point was much lower than Ironman, the swim was current aided (and crazy fast), and the rest of the terrain was similar to northeast Florida.  Plus, the November timing was perfect.

And then, B2B decided to sell out to Ironman.  While I certainly am open to racing an Ironman event, to me it was difficult to reconcile spending $300 or so more on race entry fees for substantially the same race – just because of a name change.

Enter Rev3 Triathlon and their race at Cedar Point!

Cedar Point

See, I’ve been on the Rev3 age group team for a bunch of years, but have never raced at Cedar Point.  Honestly, I’m not sure why – other than the fact that Sandusky, OH, is about 17 weeks away by car and not super-easy to fly to, either.  I do love roller coasters, though, and by all accounts the course is quite similar to what I’m used to.

So….Rev3 Cedar Point is now on my 2016 bucket list!  The race is September 11th this year, and I’ll be ready to race.

And this time, it’s not just about completing the distance and crossing off a bucket list item.  This time, instead of “Complete an Ironman”, the bucket list item is “Race Rev3 Cedar Point”.  There’s a real, tangible difference there.

 

Triathlon Things I’d Buy After I Win Powerball

Like lots of Americans, I like to dream about insane wealth.  Wealth beyond measure.  Beyond my craziest dreams.

Well, dreams could come true tonight when the estimated $1.5 Billion Powerball Lottery is pulled.  I have an awesome chance of winning (something like 1:260,000,000).  So…..when I do win, let’s imagine that I take the cash option – which will net me roughly $850 million prior to paying taxes.  Subtract about 40% for taxes, and that will leave me in the ballpark range of $510 million.

And let’s assume that I want to spend ALL of that money on triathlon related things.  What could I buy?

Of course, I’d want to have everything that I could possibly need to be successful at triathlon, so I’d want to be able to train year-round, in comfort, and have the best-of-the-best.

So….here goes:

Residences:

All good super-rich triathletes need good training locations.  I figure I’ll buy several.

Boulder, CO.  They say that Colorado is prime training ground for triathletes.  Plus it offers training at altitude.  So, I need a place there.  I think I should buy this nice, small 20,000 square foot house with 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.  Plus, it’s a bargain at just $7.5 mil.

boulder

Whitefish, MT.  I love big mountains, and I want to be like Hillary Biscay – so I’ll spend some time living and training in Montana.  Plus, this little bungalow is close to Glacier National Park – one of the prettiest places on the planet.  It’s s quaint cottage at 12,000 square feet and 7 bedrooms – for the cheap price of just $8.75 mil.

Montana

Siesta Key, FL.  As much as I love the mountains, Mrs TriMadness loves the beach.  And why not have a house at the best beach in the USA?  We’ll pick up this nice beach cottage on the southwestern Gulf-side of Florida, south of Tampa, and I’ll only drop about $8 million.

siesta

On The Road.  As a super-rich triathlete, I’ll be racing a lot (because I won’t have anything else to do).  I’ll need to have some way to get to and from my races.  Depending upon where in the world I’ll be racing, I’ll take one of a couple forms of transportation:

Airbus ACJ319.  I’ll likely need to fly some – like to Europe or Australia or somewhere.  To do that, I’ll hitch a ride in my $80 million private plane.

airbus

RV:  Featherlite Vantare Platinum Plus ($2.5 million).  This is not quite the most expensive RV out there, but it’ll do for me.  It has Swarovski Crystals all over it, can sleep me and 8 friends, and I can drive it anywhere I need to.

RV

So – now I have a place to live and ways to get around to all my races, and I’ve only spent about $107 million.

Bike:  Naturally, I’ll need a new rig to ride on in my races.  Perhaps I’ll get the Felt IA FRD bike.  Comes complete with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 components, some sleek aero wheels, a power meter, and much more.  Plus it’s only $15,000.  I’ll buy one for each day of the year (’cause you never want to ride your tri bike again after you pee on it).  Total cost: $5.4 million.

Felt

Wetsuit:  Same concept as with the bike.  Once I “warm up” the suit just once, I’ll never want to wear it again.  So I’ll get 365.  I already have a TYR Hurricane Cat 5 wetsuit, and I like it – so I’ll get the next version up….the TYR Freak of Nature.  And at $1200 each, I’ll only have to spend $0.5 million.

wetsuit

Extra Wheels:  It’s probably a safe thing for me to have extra wheels on hand just in case I trash a set or so each day.  I’m not set on any particular brand of wheels – but let’s figure the top of the line set runs about $2500 each.  I’ll buy 500 sets of wheels and spend about $1.25 million.

Other race gear, Swag, Clothing:  I’m going to race A LOT.  In fact, I’ll race so much that I’ll make the Iron Cowboy look like a chump.  And like all good triathletes, I’ll only wear race gear and tri-specific clothes.  I better set aside $1.5 million to cover all of this stuff

Race Nutrition:  I’ll need to eat when I’m training.  I’m partial to Powerbar products, so maybe I should just buy the company.  Nestle bought Powerbar for about $200 million a year or so ago.  Maybe I could buy Powerbar from Nestle.  Or maybe I could buy Picky Bars from Jesse Thomas.  Let’s do that.  I could probably get that for $10 million or so.

Races:  As I said above, I will be racing a lot.  And who wants to pay all those pesky race entry fees?  I’m going to just buy some races.  WTC recently sold out for $650 million – that’s more than I’d want to pay for races.  Maybe I could buy a bunch of other race series (maybe all the independent triathlons in the country).  Let’s earmark $200 million for that.

Coaches, Nutritionists, Chefs, Massage Therapists, etc.  I’ll need a stable of support people to help me get ready to do all this racing.  I should hire the best of the best.  Michael Phelps can be my swim coach.  I’ll also have Andy Potts on retainer (because he’s an awesome open water swimmer).  Meb Keflezighi will be my running coach.  Maybe I’ll hire Jan Frodeno to be my bike coach.  Great people, but in reality people are cheap.  All of these folks should be attainable for $5 million per year (total).

Hmmmmm.  I’ve only spent about $330 million dollars.  What’s left to get?  What do you think?  Any suggestions?

I’ve got cash to spend….

R.I.P. Beach to Battleship

RIP B2B

World Triathlon Corporation today announced, as expected, that they had acquired Setup Events’ Beach to Battleship iron and half-iron distance races.

While some will certainly hail this as a good thing, there are others that will feel a certain amount of sadness.  And rightfully so.

I’ve never raced B2B.  I was planning on doing the full iron race in 2016 with a friend so he could cross off a bucket list item.  We were looking forward to the race for a lot of reasons:  a fast swim, a flat course, good swag, a fantastic vibe and great reputation, a good location (in the state where I grew up and in a town I often visited), and certainly a good value for our dollars.

There are, of course, things that will not change.  The course route isn’t changing.  The swim will still be fast.  The locals and volunteers will be out in force.

But things are changing.

Any time there’s a corporate takeover of a smaller, mom & pop outfit, the smaller changes.  In my opinion, that change is often for the worse.  Less personalized attention.  More generic products.  More crowds.  Less character.

I suspect that those fundamental – and quite unique – aspects of Beach to Battleship will be gone now.  In their place, you’ll likely find a similar experience that you’d get at any other Ironman brand race.

And while that’s cool for lots of people, it makes me sad.

So, rest in peace Beach to Battleship.

#RaceSmallIrons

This week, there has been significant conversation regarding the future of small, independent iron distance triathlons.  To recap, this all started with the revelation that Ironman (or more specifically Wanda Sports Holding Company) purchased the popular, independent iron distance race Beach to Battleship from Setup Events.  Furthering the dialog were a variety of posts on social media, and to a lesser extent, two blog posts I wrote (HERE and HERE) regarding how it appears that the Ironman brand monopoly is killing off smaller, independent races.

I’m not against Ironman.  But I really want smaller races to succeed and thrive.  Competition is a good thing, right?!

The only way that smaller, independent iron distance races will survive is if we mount a grass-roots effort to save them.  There are lots of triathletes who are contemplating racing an iron-distance race in 2016, but aren’t necessarily stuck on doing an Ironman brand race.

IronSmall

So, I’m issuing a call-to-action.  Race small.  Go out and support a small, independent iron distance race.

Sign up for Rev3’s full at Cedar Point Amusement Park.

Race the Great Floridian in Clermont, Florida.

Toe the line at the Michigan Titanium.

Grapple with the Bear Lake Brawl.

Do Peasantman.  Or HITS.

Just pick a race that is smaller.  Local.  Independent.  And then brag about it.  Post about it on Facebook.  Twitter.  Instagram.  Heck, make it your profile picture on Tinder.  When you do, please use this hashtag:

#RaceSmallIrons

Let’s get a movement going.  Pick a small race.  I will be.  Won’t you?

Non-MDot Iron Races: Saving Independents

I posted an article yesterday regarding what I called an impending death spiral for non-MDot iron distance races.  (you can click HERE to read it).   The net message that I was trying to convey is that the long distance triathlon market is being severely constricted, amounting in essentially a monopoly by Ironman.  Further, I tried to lay out that this monopoly appears to be setting up the future extinction of independent iron distance races.

More people read the post than I would have expected.  Many people shared the post from the TriCrowd website onto their Facebook feed and into a variety of triathlon-related groups.  For that, I’m super thankful!

As some folks graciously pointed out, there were a few errors in my post, and I’d like to clarify them:

  • I noted that I was unable to find the number of finishers for the Redman iron distance race.  I’ve since done more digging and found that there were about 100 finishers in 2015.
  • Somehow, I neglected to include IM Wisconsin on my chart.  Wisconsin boasted the largest population of racers on the US Ironman circuit in 2015, with 2990 finishers.
  • I mentioned that WTC had killed off Wildflower’s iron distance.  Yeah – I was 100% wrong on that front.  They are still having it.
  • Some folks mentioned that I overstated 2015 result figures for Great Floridian.  I did round up some, but the variance wasn’t meaningful in my mind

At the end of the day, adding in the Redman and IMMOO results simply reinforces the conclusion that I drew, and even further skews the results away from independent iron distance races towards MDot races.

I’m really glad that my article yesterday spurred some dialog in the triathlon community.  The spectrum of comments, as you’d expect, was wide.  Some people talked about how potentially losing independent races is a shame.  Some folks defended their choice of racing an Ironman branded race.  Others talked about how they would never do a race with so few participants – because it was essentially a long training day.  Others vowed to support an independent like Rev3’s Cedar Point full, Great Floridian or one of the others.  Still others thought I was bashing MDot.

To those who thought I was taking a dig at MDot – that was about the farthest thing on my mind.  I have no problem with people doing an Ironman branded race.  Obviously, lots of people race Ironman.  Oftentimes, first timers do Ironman.  Heck – I’ve done two Ironman races.  No problem there.

My concern is that monopolies are bad.  Ironman has a monopoly, and ultimately could drive out competition.  When (or if) that happens, I think all triathletes will come out on the short end of the stick.

With respect to those who claim that an independent is a long, lonely training day – I’d counter with the comment that those races are only lonely training days because people don’t sign up for them at the same proclivity that they sign up for Ironman.

Here’s where I think it’s time for us to take a stand.

To protect the free market.

To save the independent iron distance races.

To have options.

And how, exactly do we do that?

We do that by racing an independent.

Let’s make a concerted effort as a triathlon community to have a grass-roots effort to save independent races.  Instead of signing up to race an Ironman branded race, why don’t we turn one of the other iron distance races into the “must go to” race?  Why not sign up for Rev3’s Cedar Point?  If you want a late fall iron distance race, instead of doing IMFL or IMAZ, why not go to Florida and race the Great Floridian?  Why not race a HITS race?  or MI Titanium?

I’m not claiming we should try to put Ironman branded races out of business.  Goodness knows, that isn’t likely to happen.  What I am suggesting is that we all make a concerted effort to go out and race non-MDot iron distance races.

Together – and only together – we can save the long-term viability of independent long distance races.

Go out and #DoIndependentIron.