In one of my previous blog posts I mentioned that full distance ironman and me have unfinished business. Well in less than 12 months I’ll be having another crack at the toughest sporting challenge as I take on Ironman Australia at Port Macquarie in New South Wales. Just entering the race was a challenge as the demand for Ironman places in Australia has reached new levels. The initial 1,450 race places sold out in 30 mins and 100 additional places sold out in under 10 minutes. You may recall from a previous blog post that I’m a strong supporter of a third Ironman race in Australia and the speed with which Port Mac sold out demonstrates the huge demand for Ironman down under.
There seems to be a sense of frustration growing within the Australian triathlon community with the way the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is treating Australia. I don’t think I could put this into words as eloquently as Luke McKenzie who wrote a fantastic article on the state of Ironman in Australia. He raises a number of concerns such as insufficient races to satisfy demand despite the introduction of new races in other parts of the world. The double whammy is that Australian races are being downgraded in terms of prize money and Hawaii qualifying slots which explains the lack of big global names competing down under. To put this into perspective Pete Jacobs picked up $4,500 for winning IM Australia earlier this month and the winner of Challenge Cairns (a non WTC event) will take home close to $75,000. Australia has an illustrious Ironman heritage, an Australian male has won the world championships in Hawaii four out of the past five years and both the current male and female world champions are Australian. Despite this we are seeing more investment (and hawaii places) going into races like Ironman China – which ended up being cancelled. It feels like the WTC sees the future of the sport outside of Australia and assume they are guaranteed income whatever the race. It’s tough to argue with this given the speed with which Port Mac sold out and the fact that there are still entries available for challenge cairns next month. However I would like to think that the Australian IM community will not stand for this long term. Speaking for myself if the current trend continues I’ll certainly be shifting my hard earned $ to races like challenge cairns rather than WTC events.