Earlier this year WTC implemented a new rule for professionals. The new rule is that no professional athlete would be paid if their finishing time was not within 8% of the winner’s time.
Here are a few of my thoughts:
There has been a lot of jibber-jabber amongst the professionals about this new rule. I have kept my opinions to myself, as I think that I am in the minority in thinking the 8% rule may have been a way for us professionals to progress to higher level.
I like rules. And I think that if you do your job, if you work hard, then you should get the proper result (within the 8%) and you should get paid. After all, not everyone is accepted at an Ivy league school. Not everyone has the opportunity to be a part of a Division 1 athletic program. And not everyone is qualified for certain jobs. I thought that this new rule would make the professionals work harder and would help us push each other to be the best that we can be.
In St. Croix, nine women started the race (10 were supposed to get paid). 3 women dropped out. 6 finished. It was one of the hottest, hardest, windiest days that I can remember in my ten years of racing in St. Croix. If it had been last year, with last year’s rules, all 6 of us girls would have been paid. We all pushed our bodies the best that we could, but third through sixth places fell short of the prize money due to the new rule.
Even after I did not make the 8% cut off this past weekend, I was actually ok with it. I knew that I had gone into that particular race a little bit under prepared. I did give my best on the day, but I did not show up with a full tank, and I was unable to race to my full potential, so I was unable to compete with the best girls on the day. It was very hard to have spent all that money to get there, and to have left St. Croix with no payday; however, I knew the rules when I booked my tickets. And I knew that if I had properly prepared for the race, I would have finished within 8% of Catriona’s winning time.
However after this past weekend, I saw how this new rule might adversley affect our beloved sport.
After one of the financial sponsors of the race found out that the new rule was in place, he became angry. Usually when a sponsor gets angry, that sponsor pulls their money. When sponsors pull their money, the race suffers, or even dies. The thought of the St. Croix 70.3 race dying makes me very upset. St. Croix has a long standing tradition; it was one of the first races in triathlon. The community loves this race and it needs this race.
Another adverse effect of the new rule is the toll it can take on the up and comers of our sport. Erin O’Hara was third place this past weekend. She fell short by about 2-3 minutes, and she did not make any money. She does not have any sponsors to help take away the financial sting. I believe that I was ok with my result because I know that I am capable of much, much more and I tend to punish myself enough for the bad race. I also have wonderful, supportive sponsors who I have been with for several years, which helps take away the finacial sting. Erin does not have that finacial net. She is scraping by day to day, month to month. Sunday would have been a huge pay day for her and it would help her have a nice cushion for the next couple of months. Instead she received a plaque and a bracelet, which are both very nice, but they do not pay the rent. Seeing Erin struggle makes me see the major flaw in this rule.
I now fear that his new rule is going to kill some of the great races, and it’s going to discourage some of our new professionals, especially the women.
For me, racing St. Croix taught me a small lesson. St. Croix is a destination race that is very expensive to fly to. I will not dare start this race feeling less than 100%. Each time I start a race, I am putting my emotions, my reputation, my character, and my physical being on the line. I finished the race because I respect the sport and I knew I could finish without hurting myself. But the reality is that I did hurt myself. I went into the race fairly beat up and overtrained. I finished. I finished in 5th place without a pay check and unable to race Rev3 Knoxville the very next weekend because I was so overly tired. It was a net loss for me. As a business decision it was a bad one.
I have to wonder how many women will show up in St. Croix next year. I hope that this race stayes alive and thrives. While I think that there are some points of the 8% rule are good, I think that some points are tough. Triathlon isn’t golf. There is not a lot of money in the sport as it is. I would think that we would want triathlon to grow. However after witnessing what happened at St. Croix, I see a few flaws in our current 8% rule system.