“Dear John Letter to Ironman” – Still Applies

It seems that we can’t have more than a month or two pass by without some “issue” relating to an M-Dot race.  Well, at least the past year has been interesting, to say the least.  Races have been shortened, venues have closed, the Ironman Passport program, and most recently, issues with the IMNYC race – including a death during the swim, logistics issues, and, as a capstone, a huge price increase (and subsequent cancellation of registrations) for the 2013 race.

Of course, no race company is fully inoculated from missteps or errors.  Most likely, every company makes mistakes.  Just some seem more glaring than others, and some companies seem to make more of them than others. 

Now, like many of you I’ve done a bunch of M-Dot races.  At one time, I pined to hear the phrase, “You are an Ironman.”  I’ve spent plenty of hard-earned money to gain entry to Ironman brand races.  I won’t spend another dime with them.  Last year, I decided to vote with my wallet.

Below is a post that originally appeared on TriMadness in November, 2011.  At the time I posted the message below, I had just capped off my season at Rev3 South Carolina.  The differences between Rev3 and Ironman are so huge – I knew at the time I’d found my new “race home”.  (and yes, I am sponsored by Rev3 – so I get certain perks associated with that relationship….but my opinions WILL NOT CHANGE even after I’m no longer on Team Rev3).

After M-Dot initially offering up the 2013 IMNYC race at close to $1300 for a standard entry (and $1700 for a VIP entry), I’m even more convinced that they are more concerned about profit margin than racers.  Revenue over rewards.  I knew that the letter below still applies…

A Dear John Letter to Ironman

Dear Ironman,

You and I, we have a history.

I’ve sweated and swam, biked miles upon miles, and ran like Forrest Gump. All in an effort to overcome the races you’ve lain in front of me. Not just once, but several times.

Orlando. Panama City Beach. Louisville. They are familiar territory. A few good memories have come from my pursuits there. More of them have been ho-hum.

Once I was pleased to hear Mike Reilly proclaim that I was an “Ironman”.

But I’m over you.

It’s not you…..it’s all me.

I’m tired of swimming with two thousand friends. I don’t like drafting when I’m supposed to be racing. I don’t like feeling like a customer.

Triathlon isn’t about those things. At least for me, it’s not. Triathlon is about the challenge. Feeling like you belong at a race – regardless of whether you’re the first finisher or the last. I like spectacle and boisterous finish lines as much as the next guy, and while you’re good at that, others are equally good – if not better – at it than you are. I want to feel valued as an athlete. Part of the family. Cared about. Loved.

And you, well, you don’t do that anymore for me.

I’m just a tick mark on your headboard. Another zero on the balance sheet. Another person to sell logo’d merchandise to for too high a price.

We’re done. I know you’ll find others. People will constantly clamor for the “notoriety” that comes from doing one of your races. Good for them.

I’m in this for something more now. Good riddance.

I’ve got a new sweetheart. She may be a little younger than you, but she’s better in oh so many ways. Her name even sounds cooler……Revolution3. Change. New. She’s all that.

So we’re breaking up. Have a nice life.


4 thoughts on ““Dear John Letter to Ironman” – Still Applies

  1. I hear a lot of people say this about Ironman. I just found out that a 70.3 race is coming to my city and I HAVE to race it. I’m going to see how it goes and judge from there. As lame as it is, I have to hear those words, “You are an Ironman.” Lame, I know, and racing for all the wrong reasons, but I have to prove to myself I can do it. I wouldn’t be opposed to REV3 though. I hear it is a wonderful atmosphere. So will it be one and done, not sure but we will find out.

  2. Thanks for sharing your view on WTC vs. Rev 3. Having done both, I am curious what your recommendation would be as a first 140.6: WTC or Rev 3? I am looking to do my first sometime in the next two years. I am very attracted to Rev 3 as I have heard nothing but positive reviews of the entire experience.


    • Hey – first off, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!

      So your question is a really good one, I think. Which would I recommend for a first-time iron distance race? Rev3 or M-Dot? Of course, I’m partial to Rev3 since I’m on their AG team. But here are some thoughts:

      1. M-Dot races have a lot of brand equity. People recognize the name, and have seen the TV show. So, lots of folks equate 140.6 with Ironman. Some people put a lot of value in hearing Mike Reilly tell them that they are an Ironman when they finish.
      2. Rev3 races tend to be less crowded than M-Dot, but the “show” is equally good, if not better. The finish line is spectacular. The expo is good. There are activities for kids. Your family can cross the finish line with you. Cedar Point (where Rev3 has it’s full iron distance race) is a hell of an amusement park (your family can hang out there while you’re racing). Rev3’s medals are far better than M-Dot’s.
      3. Race entry costs are pretty similar. The difference is that M-Dot makes you sign up for their races a year in advance, and getting a spot might require you to volunteer at the race the year before you want to race. Entry into Rev3’s race is much easier.

      So my first two iron distance races were M-Dot. I was really super excited to “become an Ironman”. The experience was overwhelming. But…I think that I’d likely feel that way no matter if I did an M-Dot race, a Rev3 race, or even a local iron distance race. It’s a huge accomplishment that you should really be proud of!

      At the end of the day, it boils down to your personal taste. In my opinion, M-Dot races are more crowded, there’s less space for you in transition, you’re just a “number”, and everything is super-expensive. With Rev3, I think you feel more like a member of the family, it’s less crowded, the family stuff is awesome. Would I do M-Dot again? Not sure. Probably not, for some of the reasons above.

      Good luck with your decision! Hope to see you at the races!

      • Thanks for taking the time to send suck a detailed and thoughtful response. I really appreciate it.

        I am leaning towards Rev 3. I know it sounds silly, but I want to feel like a start, not just a bib number, when I do my first 140.6. It sounds like that is how Rev 3 makes you feel! I can’t wait to follow all the Rev 3 team members race reports after this year’s Rev 3 CP.

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