Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What do you think are the biggest issues in amatuer endurance sports?

With the Boston Marathon filling up in record time, WTC constantly sticking its corporate foot in its mouth, and us regular folks almost needing to volunteer to volunteer to volunteer to sign up for an Ironman branded race, I am really curious about what you all think are the biggest issues affecting us mere amateur endurance athlete mortals?

Let me state some obvious ones here lately in the "endurance world news"
  • Boston Marathon Filling up in record time
  • Should the standards for BQ-ing be raised to make it harder to BQ?
  • WTC creating a deluxe/entitled club, then killing it
  • Cost of races
  • Signing up to volunteer for an Ironman 18 months in advance
  • Signing up for an Ironman 12 months in advance
  • Is triathlon only for the rich?
  • Does the average triathlete really spend $22,000 a year on this sport?
  • Is the boom of triathlon a mere fad (the new golf)? Or something here to stay?
  • Are running races getting too big? (NYC Marathon) 
  • Is the marathon just a bucket list item nowadays?
  • Are slow marathoners athletes? (I think yes....)
  • Are there too many unqualified coaches out there?
  • Are you purchasing flashy equipment to go faster (aka buying speed)? Or is it really for the ego boost to look cool?
  • Do people train with too many "gadgets?"
I can't list everything here because not everything affects me. What else do you think should go onto this list?

Do you have any reactions to a topic listed above? If so, I wanna hear it! (leave a comment)

*DISCLAIMER!* I am a very unbiased person. The above list in my opinion is just a mere current events list of mainstream amateur endurance sports. I may or may not have a position on each topic and I am neither saying anything is "bad" or "good."


  1. Man, you hit some firework topics here. I have my opinion on a lot of this.

    WHAT I DO THINK should be a necessity. Race resumes. I AM SICK of dodging people in the front of races. I think they should allow people who run at a certain pace and faster to start a marathon one minute before the general public. I think that you should have the option to submit a race resume with your previous times so that you are corralled properly.

    I have done numerous races where KIDS that couldn't make it 500ft with the front pack were getting trampled and causing runners to hop out of the way and almost fall to avoid trampling them.

    The WTC thing... ehhhh its a busniess. I get businesses... assholish? maybe. But people need/want to make money. If you want to do their races, you will pay the money I guess.

    Triathlon a fad? It appears so. We stumbled into it almost accidentally. We were hooked. It is addictive I feel.

    Marathons as bucket list items. AGREED. 100%. It is bragging rights.

    Boston lowering their standards... I don't know. I think what they should do is make 2 flat times across the board. One for men, one for women. DONE. No questions, no age groups. You get this time, you run our race. I know PLENTY of old people who are way faster than me.

  2. Great list Jon. I'm going to play devil's advocate a bit on the Ironman comments. I signed up to volunteer for my first only 3 months in advance because prior to that I wasn't even a triathlete (was learning to swim). The sexy volunteer posts were filled, but the average IM needs well over 3,000 volunteers so there was still much to do. Beyond that, you should be signed up for an Iron distance event, WTC or not, 12 months in advance, because your training will absorb 9 of those months and you need to be prepared.

    That said, one of the things that bothers me the most is the amount of unprepared athletes in general at major events. The marathon became the everyman sport, something that used to be a significant achievement and only for a few is something anyone can and will do regardless of the preparation. You see it on every marathon course, the folks who are struggling at Mile 5 with another 21.2 to go. You see it the most in the Olympic distance races, especially the big marquis events like NYC, Chicago and Nation's. And unfortunately you can die doing these races. I feel so many athletes are grossly unprepared and not only put themselves at risk, but also their fellow athletes.

    And I totally agree with the comment above. I'm not that speedy but I line up in the corral I'm assigned to and sometimes there are walkers in there - and I have a sub-8 average as the time the races seed me with! It's just wrong.

    And finally, I think you spend $22K on pastries alone, so don't judge ;)

  3. - I think if you volunteer at an Ironman, you should get a discount for the next years race, it would increase volunteer rates and more people will give back to the the community.

    - It is not like USAT really gives us that much, but recent reports, they are going to focus less on the age grouper and focus more on developing the National Team and get ready for the Olympics, another organization basically saying "Hey, we dont care about 99% of the people in this sport"

    - I think that Kona needs to be either qualify or lottery slot only. I do not think the holy grail of our sport be used to give out free slots to celebrities. If a celebrity wants to do an IM, then choose one of the many qualify races out there, just dont dont give it out in Kona because you are famous.

    - Too much is being put on that you need to do Iron Distance. I strongly disagree with this, once you cross a finish line in any distance triathlon, you are officially a triathlete. I seen too many people, do a sprint, then next race they sign up for is an Iron Distance race, they get burned out, or injuried, and end up hating the sport and leace it forever. Everyone has their "distance" that they enjoy racing.

    - I do think triathlon is a fad, I think the sport will be around for a long long time, but it is the new "mid life crisis" sport. I can easily see racers putting in a couple of seasons, then drifting off to the discipline that they are best in and just become a swimmer or biker or runner. Maybe do a tri here and there. Just my opinion, it takes alot of commitment in this sport. I hope I dont fall into this subject.

    - Buying top of the line gear is just ego boosting for 90% of the people who do it, they are not fast enough to get the full benefit of it.

    - I can go on and on and on and on, but I am going to stop, we could have a round table with all of this and it would last days if not weeks.

  4. As long as endurance sports are free market with no constraints (not good or bad) they can do what they want. We're just along for the ride unless you are a decision maker for WTC or another sports body. Capitalism baby!

  5. Wow! Great topic Jon! Way to open up the forum.

    I LOVE MattyO's idea of a race resume. I just shared on my blog about a 5k where the 8 and 9 year olds were toeing the starting line. Outright dangerous.

    I love to see a breakdown of how my registration money is being spent. The costs seem to keep going up and up, but what for? I know there is a lot of cost that goes into a race, but how does that change on a year to year basis. My dad almost had a coronary when I told him how much a half IM cost to register for. This is coming from the guy who race marathons in the 90's where he paid $10 for a fully supported marathon course with medal and t-shirt.

    As for slow marathoner's. Definitely athletes. However, one condition and this may get me in trouble, only if they have trained/prepared for the race. If you train, then no matter your time you are an athlete. Even if your goal is to walk the marathon and that is what you train for, then you are an athlete. Just don't show up on race morning and say, "My longest run was 6 miles, I figure I can just walk the rest". To me, it is the training that makes us athletes, not the completion of an event. The completion of the event is more the reward for our training than anything else. Again, all my opinion, feel free to disagree.

  6. I get where all these points are coming from, but it makes our sport seem so negative. I guess I try to look past these points and look at the good endurance sports has done for people: loose weight, control their illnesses, become more healthy, etc.

  7. Off the top of my head. I'd like to see them change how they handle volunteering.

    1) You can volunteer at any IM branded 140.6 and use that Volunteer "CREDIT" to enter any 140.6 IM races.

    How can they possibly do step 1. You have to be on site to register?!?!

    2) Change registration method as follows. People with Volunteer credit at the SAME race site they want to race get to sign up FIRST.
    Then Volunteers from other locations.

    What if you want to go to the race site but not volunteer?

    3) Continue with race site registration but that does not guarantee entry (it doesn't now). Once the deadline for Volunteer Registration passes. The "On Site" registrations follow.

    4) Finally the remaining slots are filled by a LOTTERY. Not by who has access to the internet at exactly the time registration opens.

    I haven't volunteered for an IM. I don't know how it works.
    I have volunteered for NYRR and they have a signup online to "register" to Volunteer for various tasks. Same with the NYC Triathlon. Ironman would have to do this same thing if they don't already.

    Just a thought.

  8. what a list!
    you might might get a l o n g comment list with those softballs!
    Ill keep it short
    BQ should keep the times (since I have not hit it YET) but CHANGE to qualifying during the year only instead of allowing people in the fall marathons to be exempt for 2 years.

    If I could add something to the list it would be Triathlon makes age groups true and not year born in...that makes no sense to me


  9. I have lots of opinions on your topics, but am short on time. So, I'll add one--the fitness boom we are experiencing is great, if it gets folks off the coach. However, one side effect has been the explosion of huge, high price ticket racing. I can race, quite happily, without all the bells and whistles. Cut the prices and do away with fancy schwag, bands, special VIP treatment, etc. Let's just toe the line people!

  10. My 2 cents? In a country where obesity and inactivity are rampant and the most common diseases are primarily a result of lifestyle choices (diabetes, heart disease, COPD) I, for one, am ECSTATIC to see more and more Americans getting involved with triathlon, marathons or ANY endurance events.

  11. OH man...want my answers??
    - Boston - I think the BQ time should be made tougher OR there should be less BQer races. SO right now, almost every marathon is accepted by BAA as a BQer. What if there was only 1 race in each state (or something like that) instead?
    -WTC...First, I hate that they are taking over all of these local races and ruining the character of the races...Like they are getting Silverman I heard....and I really do not like that they are getting into the OLY races...but they are a product that is wanted right now, they are just taking advantage of that I guess. As far as them price gouging us...hey, we keep paying, they keep raising the prices...if we stop paying, watch the cost of races drop.
    -Volunteering for an IM isn't the only way to get in, it is the only SURE way to get in. If you want to compete in a popular race, you have to pay your dues and make the decision early. Since you train almost 9mos for an IM, this stuff doesn't really bother me personally.
    - I am not rich, but just race fees alone if you want to do a longer distance race can kill you. It certainly is a costly sport. And truthfully, 3 sports just cost more than 1. But you don't HAVE to break the bank and buy the best bike, wetsuit, etc out there. I do not spend $22,000 on my sport, not even close.
    - I think it is a fad that will continue to explode and then even out - it isn't going away.
    - Race sizes - yes, too big for me.
    - marathon and triathlons are just bucket list items for a lot of people.
    - I am a slow marathoner and an athlete. I double dog dare anyone to come to my face and tell me otherwise.
    - yes - lots of coaches out there. I think anyone who does a race thinks they can get USAT cert and coach.
    - I am buying speed, and if I look good when I am flying by, that is cool too. ha ha
    - WAY too many gadgets, I prefer to run naked, but have been using a HRM because my coach told me I had to.

  12. OK blogger just ate my post. Dang it.

    Great questions. Each one could be a blog subject for discussion. I don't have the energy to re-post what I wrote, but I will touch on the fact that I think BAA should do a few things:
    1) change the Q times.
    2) make less races BQer races. There are hundreds upon hundreds of BQing races...what if only certain races (say 1-2 in each state) were BQers? That might make those races sell out, sure, but it would also make it so people who BQ can register...

  13. First off, Jon, very impressive the way you posed these questions and pretty much ended up like Sweden! Well played, well played indeed!

    To answer the header question: "What do you think are the biggest issues in amatuer endurance sports?"

    - For me personally, and I am sure I will get 100% agreement, it is my job. I mean how the heck am I supposed to train, sleep, eat, and still work? Seriously, this 50-60 hours a week working stuff is a major issue for me. I am going to write Obama and see if he can talk to Pelosi and get an Endurance Athlete Entitlement Program passed through congress. I might even contact MoveOn.org and see if they can get a petition going. This has grassroots written all over it baby!

    -Every thing else had been debated nicely above. But I have to agree with MattyO about the people slotting themselves incorrectly at the start of running races. This INFURIATES me to no ends. And the best part is when you blow past these people and they make a shitty comment to you. WOW, that gets me even more FIRED UP. Seriously I am thinking about becoming the MACCA of AG runners at my local 5k, 10k, and Half marathons. I am just going to be a huge ass and throw elbows and dump over all the drinks at the aid stations. That is my solution!

  14. Oh my...what a list! I have some thoughts on all of those, but there's no way I have time to reply to them! A couple things though...the cost of races is insane! Even 5ks are getting expensive now! I would much rather pay a smaller fee and not get a t-shirt, then pay a lot and get a crappy, bad designed shirt that will sit in my closet forever!
    Also, I do think races are getting too big. The Denver marathon was massive! There was too much traffic b/c there just were too many people!! For the next season, I am definitely taking into consideration the size of the event before I register for it!

  15. If Jeff turns out like Macca, then start placing your bets on UFC 158, BDD vs The Carrot, though it will be like lesnar vs bj penn

  16. In response to the "I don't want a T-Shirt" comments.
    I've spoken to a few race directors and they said that's one thing that won't go away. Why? Because it's the #1 priority of race sponsors. Having their name/logo on the shirt is a big deal to them.

  17. i wouldn't mind if bq's went down. but that's easier to say as someone who's already bq'd i'm sure.

    is nyc too big? i thought they were kinda leveled off at 40k runners? i ran it last year, and pr'd, so i don't think it's too big.

    i'm sure the bucket list "issue" has always been around. i don't think there's anything wrong with it - you don't have to run 29352 marathons in order to be considered a "real" marathoner. just 1.

    i don't buy into fad equipment. i did get "compression socks", but i don't know that i necessarily believe they work. they are comfortable to wear, and an extra layer of warm in the winter. i don't even know what other fad-y things are out there?

    i do think some people are too-gadgety. i have my garmin, but that's it. people who load up like inspector gadget need to go back to the basics. you don't need a belt + 12 water bottles + a week's worth of groceries + 900 hours of music.

    for all the tri questions... i don't do tri's. i do wonder how the heck people spend that much on tri's. what kinds of jobs do you triathletes have? sheesh :)


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