Many of you know the news that has recently rocked the Ironman triathlon world – Ironman China was cancelled.
According to the WTC who run the Ironman Events there was no alternative and the blame falls on Chinese officials and red tape. The management of this was then handled like most business decisions. An official announcement was made and that was that. No apology letter to competitors and no thought put into how they resolve some of the issues – like how to fairly distribute the Hawaii slots.
There were some obvious flaws, everyone has their opinions and the arguments will continue for a long time. Will the IM event ever return to China? I know we wont be booking tickets again!
What I want to write about, is how this cancellation has effected the competitors families and the Ironman family as a whole.
I am the wife of an Ironman China competitor – and so are my two friends. Our 3 husbands were travelling to China together from Sydney to experience Ironman China and in the hope of qualifying for Hawaii. The last two weeks have been a journey of emotions. Shock, anger, disappointment. We have seen our husbands train hard for the last 5 months with the one goal in mind and now that goal has been taken away – there are a lot of questions left lingering…
My friend said it perfectly in a letter to the WTC when she explained “Training for an ironman race is a massive commitment in time and energy not just by the athlete but his entire family”.
She highlighted to them the emotional impact a cancellation has had on her family, particularly when explaining to young kids that all the hard work and training and missing family commitments is for nothing now that there is no race. You can accept this if they can’t race due to injury but much harder when it is beyond your control.
For many of the China competitors this race was the only one for the year. Their only opportunity to qualify for Hawaii – and lets be honest here, most committed Ironman have the ultimate goal of competing in Hawaii.
For families, holidays are planned and money is saved. It can’t all be changed at short notice. On top of that, particular for competitors in Australasia, there are very few Ironman races to compete in and they are sold out a year ahead. There is no going to the US to compete. There is no Ironman now for us in 2011.
What breaks my heart, is seeing someone in top condition ready for the race of their life after months of training, have their goal taken away and then treated like a business transaction.
Ironman races are a business these days but when they announce so openly at all their races that we are one Ironman family – how can they then not treat their competitors like family and show them some respect?
It was deflating to hear “I am over Ironman”, “This is it ” and “no more” – when after 10 years I felt like Ironman would be part of our family forever. I know my husband is not the only one feeling this way.
Some competitors will get to another race this year, which will mean more training and juggling work and family life. Others like ours are disillusioned with Ironman and who knows when and if we will return.
I wrote to WTC with my concerns, as did the other wives and competitors we know. I did receive a personal reply but the response did not ease the anger or answer the questions.
It will be interesting to see what happens next year with Ironman races across our region. To me it seems not enough races and too few Hawaii slots for a race that depsite it’s management will never lose the lure it holds to maybe one day race on the the Big Island. The sport seems to be growing. The interest will remain. I wish we could turn our backs and move on to other races appearing on the horizon, but even to me, the supporter, Hawaii is calling. Will we forgive and be part of the Ironman family again?
How do you feel about the Ironman China cancellation? Let me know about your experience. How did it effect your family?