UPDATE: Looks like all the ranting on the internet (Facebook, Twitter, and blogs) has paid off and we can now all celebrate the short-lived program that was Ironman Access. See the official statement from WTC CEO and President Ben Fertic here: http://ironman.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/ironman-access.
The WTC has been busy lately… what with announcing a new olympic distance series, stepping on some toes when moving the 70.3 championships, and now launching a ridiculously expensive membership club??? There’s definitely more ranting than raving going on with regard to the latest news stories.
Adding up the Costs
Triathlon is expensive enough as it is. First you need to pick a race and register. Depending on the race (distance, location, popularity, and who’s running it), this can be as little as $60 (this is the LEAST I’ve ever paid for a sprint triathlon) or as much as $575 for an Ironman (if you’re lucky and fast enough to nab a spot at any of their races) or EVEN MORE if you’re going for a foundation spot or a longer race (yes.. those DO exist).
Next.. get yourself some gear. This is where you can spend as little or as much as you like. Basically, all you need is a swimsuit, goggles, running shoes, a bike and a helmet. That’s the bare-bones of it. But, once you’ve been bitten by the triathlon bug, there is NO END to wanting to upgrade parts, buy the newest shoes, get the snazziest (yes… I use that word) kits, plus all the accessories and non-gear needs … anti-friction lube (Glide ), special shampoo and conditioner to get the chlorine out of your hair (my choice is TriSwim), customized sunglasses (Oakley Jawbone), Garmin (so many to choose from), Yankz!, etc.. etc… the list goes on and on.
Now add to all that gear (which is used on race day) the gear that you’ll use during training. I’ve got training shoes and race shoes for running. I’ve got an indoor trainer for the bike with it’s own wheel (so I don’t wear out the wheel I actually use on the road). I’ve got a treadmill (ok.. I didn’t technically buy this one, but I use it… so it counts). I’ve got numerous books regarding training plans, strategies, skill specific workouts, injury prevention, nutrition, stretching, and more. I’ve got recovery apparatusses (apparati??) including The Stick, massage ball, compression tights, ice packs, and EMS.
All that seriously adds up to thousands of dollars over the course of one year. Some people do it for much less… some people do it for much much more. I like to think I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, due mostly to Minh’s bargain-hunting skills and nose for sales and coupons (we NEVER buy anything full price). Now WTC wants me to add $1000 to that? Are you KIDDING ME??
What will $1000 get me?
- Exclusive advance registration to Ironman events
- Second chance in the Ironman Lottery Program
- Two VIP passes per registered event
- Official member ID Card
- One-year subscription to LAVA Magazine
- Discounts on Ironman partner products at shopironman.com and at Ironman’s on-site event retail stores
- 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship NBC broadcast on DVD.
Let’s break that down into what really matters
- This one’s helpful because Ironman events sell out so quickly now that you have to commit before you even know if you’re going to be ready for it. Case in point, Ironman 70.3 California. I just realized TODAY that it’s SOLD OUT and I hadn’t even registered for it yet. Even the foundation slots are sold out. RIDICULOUS! Scratch that one off my race calendar for 2011…. grr…
- Another chance at the lottery is a perk, but the lottery is also STILL very expensive (and you don’t even get that money back if you don’t get a spot). Plus, I’m a firm believer that participants in the World Championships should deserve it, not win a spot out of luck.
- The VIP pass probably consists of entry into a special food tent and drinks (if that). Not really worth it, especially if you’re bringing out MORE than just one friend or family member.
- Yet another thing to add to my stack of useless cards.
- Yet another yearly subscription that I won’t read because I get all the same information on the Internet.
- A discount perk that may be worth it at times, but probably won’t compare to the discounts and deals we can find on eBay or with some good searching.
- A show that you can stream for FREE on the internet (or probably even download if you’re so inclined). I’ve got all of them starting in 2005.
So… it would seem that the only worthy perk to membership in Ironman Access is the ability to register early for events. But is that really worth $1000?? I think most of the triathlon community is on the same page about this topic.. and the resounding answer is… NO, it’s totally NOT WORTH IT.