The Professional Triathlon Association, a U.S.-based triathlon union that recently opened itself up to international members, announced its official response to the World Triathlon Corporation’s new Kona qualification and prize money rules.Written by: Courtney Baird
PROTA based its response off of a survey it conducted on 500 athletes. Many of these surveyed athletes were former Ironman and Ironman 70.3 winners and they included several world champions: Chrissie Wellington, Tim DeBoom, Andy Potts, Joanna Zeiger, and Julie Dibens.
Among the survey’s findings, a majority of the pros believed that the new Kona qualification system—which is based off of an elaborate points system instead of the previous slot system—doesn’t properly value Ironman races and instead favors 70.3 athletes. Many also felt that it would be prudent to base the points system off of two or more years of racing—as sports such as golf do—to give athletes leeway if they are injured or unable to race.
A vast majority of the pros—90%—believed that the WTC’s $750 license fee should include entry into all races, including Kona and Clearwater.
As far as prize money is concerned, many pros felt that the top 10 pros should be paid at all races, which at this point is only the case for championship races. Many athletes also believed that, depending on the deepness of the fields, it would sometimes be fair to pay the men deeper prize purses than the women.
On the drug testing front, 90% of athletes said that the top 10 ranked athletes should be subjected to blood and urine tests throughout the year.
Many athletes didn’t support the new rule that athletes must complete in at least one Ironman other than Kona, and many didn’t like the idea of wild cards getting entry into Kona.
Almost all respondents—99%—believed that there should be a permanent liaison between the pros and the WTC. Having no or limited communication with the WTC is something that pros have complained about for many years.
PROTA also said that most pros would like to open up a dialogue with the WTC about how they could enhance the age-grouper’s experience at events by making themselves more available to race organizers.
Courtney Baird is senior editor of Inside Triathlon magazine. Pick up the September/October issue of Inside Triathlon for a story related to the WTC’s new rules.