Before the movie The Fast and the Furious, I grew up in the car scene where two camps of people existed: The prebuilt super car owner (Ferarri, Porsche); the second group of people purchasing a $500 beater and throwing a $500 speed boat motor inside, by their own hands.
This also exists in the world of triathlon – The “Ferrari” class being Ironman brand competitors. They sign-up and fight for $700-1200 lottery spaces a year in advance, so next year they can finish around midnight with a $10,000 bike, and walking through the marathon chatting on their cellphone on where to get the Ironman brand tattoo.
I am not disrespecting midnight finishes, as there may be good reason; such as old-aged person, cancer survivor, etc – huffing and puffing their way through. The branded Ironman, has the mentality that if you do not do an Ironman brand race of 140.6 distance, you are not an real Ironman. They seem to forget that prior to the organization that puts it on WTC – world triathlon championships (Or replace the C with corporation instead) – the racers were a group of friends deciding the ultimate distance challenge. Yes currently there is much greater and tougher such as Norseman, Ultraman, Badwater, even in Italy at time of this post is a 30-Ironmans in 30 days competition.
As for the now 140.6 standard distance…. I have done one in training to see if I can finish like these silly rich people, but a race is where you put yourself to the test. The HITS triathlon series put on an early registration promo that got me in for $550 less than what an Ironman brand race costs, and I did not need to bite someone’s head off to pay to enter. Another feature is this is a multi-distance event, where they give you an option to drop down to a lower one if you aren’t feeling well, which takes a lot of stress off. I already have posted a race report on this, where I finished under 11 hours compared to 13 in my driveway 140.6… the only difference is I upped the volume – thus nothing to brag about. It makes you wonder why people in perfect health are bragging about doing a walk-a-thon in a 140.6 race with their Ironman merchandise, tattoo, finisher medal. Would you do this if there was no announcer, finisher medal, t-shirt, or whatever they give you for completing a race?
Also, remember if cost is a limiting factor for many people competing, are you competing against the best? I know many that can only afford a 5k and leave me in the dust. What I am saying is respect the distance, by putting effort in and not money. Your value and work ethic isn’t determined by how big your finisher medal is. So once you have put that training in, support other races that are focused on athletes achieving their personal best, such as HITS, Rev3, Vineman 140.6 – and you will be an Ironman.