Ironman President, Ben Fertic, released a video press release today, October 28, 2010, explaining that World Triathlon Corporation made a mistake by launching its Ironman Access program earlier this week.
The Florida-based company announced on Wednesday that it would introduce a preferred registration program called Ironman Access. Ironman Access was intended to allow members of the program to register for Ironman triathlon events one week prior to non-members, for an additional fee of $1,000.
Following the announcement and a flood of reaction from the triathlon community, Fertic acknowledged that there was some “confusion regarding the Ironman Access program,” and went on to explain its intended purpose on Ironman’s FaceBook page. According to Fertic, Ironman Access aimed to address the following:
1.) Currently, to guarantee entry to a number of our events, athletes travel to the event location one year in advance and wait in line to register for the following year. For athletes who are taking a weekend of their time, paying for their travel, hotel, airfare, etc., this program is an alternative.
2.) Most importantly, Ironman has a significant number of athletes who register for multiple events with the intention of racing only one of them. Once they successfully register for their “first choice” event, these athletes do not attend the other events in which they have registered, thereby reducing opp ortunities for other athletes.
3.) Ironman Access enables athletes to compete in the event they want + eliminates their need to register for multiple events. As a result, more slots will be available for general registration across the entire series. (Final update to follow)
Triathletes continued to respond to the new program via FaceBook and industry Web sites, commenting on the state of Ironman, recent policy changes and programs, and the treatment of Ironman participants. Examples included FaceBook posts like these:
Tophie Malloy: I have the M dot tat, and am glad I earned it and got it before the money hungry people now running WTC took over. And to think this sport was built by and only exists because of its competitors. When we can’t afford to race any more at your races, we’ll happily go to your competitors. And there are many.
Laura Nyhus: Bummed I paid money to do an IRONMAN race next year already… I should have saved the entry for a non-sanctioned event where I am looked at as an equal without paying the $1000.
In today’s statement, Fertic said that WTC is rescinding the Ironman Access program and issuing refunds to those who had already registered. “We are listening,” he said. He also apologized, saying, “We’re sorry that we disappointed you.”