If I Owned Ironman – 2014

mongoIn a recent interview, the WTC noted that they didn’t know what would happen if they concentrated prize money and couldn’t figure out why athletes would want to be pros.

Why race pro?

In a word, STATUS.

Being a professional athlete is a high-status occupation. It is certainly better than saying you earn less than minimum wage and train all day.

The WTC noted that they have ~1,100 professionals in their ranks.

Here’s an idea:

  • Self-sanction your races
  • Harmonize the rules across your events
  • Take over elite accreditation (use a points/performance system based on WTC events)
  • Charge the pros $1,500 per annum for their “pro card”
  • Role 90% of those proceeds into The Race For Kona => $1.5 million bonus pool
  • Allocate points to the events that you want to promote => have the host cities bid?
  • Pay the bonus pool 50 deep (100 total) => no net cost to you, or your best athletes

What to do about Kona?

You only need 25 men and women (50 total) to have a great race.

How about:

  • Last year’s winner (1)
  • Regional winners (4)
  • Top 15 out of the Race To Kona Competition (pulling the pre-qualified 5 out for qualification, but not for cash bonuses!)
  • Five wild cards (once you are self- sanctioning, you can invite anyone you want – past tour winners, decathlon Gold medalists, up and comers, Olympic medalists) => every year there will be a ton of fan interest, debate and complaining. Great for the brand.
  • Every pro that finishes gets a check for $5,000, minimum.

Concentration of money

You said you don’t know what’s going to happen when you concentrate $5 million worth of prize money into a reduced number of events.

I’ll give it a shot.

  • Say there are ~20 top women world-wide => $125,000 per athlete
  • Say the number increases to ~50 for the men => $50,000 per athlete

Most of those folks should be able to set up a bonus deal to double their winnings – so $100,000 to 250,000 per top athlete. The male / female money dynamic is an interesting one. Top women earn more in WTC-triathlon.

A decent wage for exercising all day and the best-of-the-best will be on close to $500,000 per annum.

Sounds a lot like cycling.


As for what happens when we concentrate large sums of money on young people… that story has been playing out since the 1960s.

I’ll honor the first rule of Fight Club and leave what I know unsaid.


You can find my Ironman thoughts from April 2011 here.