I wanted to write a short post on Professional Ironman racing. There have been many new events added to the calendar this year. Some with a fair bit of prize money ($75,000) and some with not much at all ($15,000). These races pay anywhere from the top 4 to top 10.
Since this has happened, it is quite apparent that the quality of the fields has really been knocked down and spread out. This is especially apparent with the women's racing, who at many "larger" Ironman races, only have to finish and they will receive a pretty good paycheck and a lot of Ironman World Championship qualification points (www.ironmanpromembership.com).
What would be a fair way to do things?
Here are a few options that come to mind.
#1 - Pay at fewer events, to attract more professionals and pay all who turn up, to where they at LEAST get their expenses covered.
#2 Go with a prize purse at each event, based the average annual revenue generated over the previous 3 years. I think that 5% is a good place to start.
** If you go with option #1, pay back a larger % of your revenue at these events.
** Get a 50% match from an event title sponsor.
** Instill a "cutoff" from the second place finisher in each division.
Here is an example based on choice #2 from above.
Most Ironman events generate just under $2,000,000 in entry revenue, a % of all hotel revenue and millions more from merchandise, municipalities. So say the total revenue is $4,000,000 for the larger Ironman events.
- Total prize purse $300,000. 200k from the event and 100k from sponsors.
- Top 3 paid the same on each side and subtracted from the total. 60% of total purse.
1st - $40,000 M/F
2nd - $30,000 M/F
3rd - $20,000 M/F
- That leaves 120k for the remainder of the field. Which is split based on the number of athletes FINISHING under a time limit (* Instill a 10% cutoff from SECOND place.), as a percentage. So that is 60% of the pro field is men, then 60% of the remaining monies go to men and 40% to women. That's 72k for the men and 48k for the women.
- Here is how to distribute the rest of the funds.
4th place gets 20%
5th place gets 20% of remaining money
6th place gets 20% of remaining money
7th 8th etc
That breaks down to this for the men from 4th to 6th
4th - 14,400
5th - 11,520
6th - 9,216
That breaks down to this for the women from 4th to 6th
4th - 9,600
5th - 7,680
6th - 6,144
Keep this breakdown going to the cutoff for both the men & women. Redistribute the monies to the ENTIRE FIELD (male and female).
** One more necessity is a 15m+ daft zone and at least a 35min head start for the professional. 10min doesn't work well at most 2loop swim venues.
If you install a system like this, the profession of Professional Triathlete will be something that is actually feasible in the world we live in. As a professional, you are left to cover all of your travel and lodging at each race.
This is just one possible solution I came up with. Perhaps Ironman will meet with athletes to help determine a better system than we currently have.