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"Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots
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I was thinking about this today, in light of some of the other discussions on the topic. There seems to be a fear among some age-groupers that so-called "2nd tier" or "on the bubble" pros will race AG instead of racing pro and go to Kona, thereby making it harder to qualify for Kona.

This seems to be a common argument, among some folks, that (I guess) wish to go to Kona and feel it is already such a reach, that the last thing they want is for it to be harder. My normal, instinctive reaction is that Kona slots aren't *supposed* to be easy to get. It is *supposed* to be the most competitive race. But then I realized something else, which gets brought up a lot as well - which is where are the really fast age groupers from European races when Kona comes around. The typical answer here is that the European races are just glorified drafting races (which may be true, I dunno), but that certainly seems to be the case at a lot of NA Ironmans as well. The more logical conclusion that I see presented is that the cost of going to Kona is just too high for a lot of folks in Europe. And that brings me back to the original topic of "will 'on the bubble' pros start racing AG and 'take away' Kona slots?" My answer is, "No." Of course, that's just opinion. But here's why I think it won't happen.

If an "on the bubble" pro instead races AG, they have to commit to an Ironman a year in advance, and they have to pay the full price for entry. This is a vastly different scenario than the case where pros pay $750 (under the new standard) or $0 (generally, under the old "standard") and can race any Ironmans they want, signing up whenever they want. The cost for Kona is still the same - $550. So we are now at $1100 *just in entry fees.* Add in the round trip airfare to Kona - seems to be about $1000 including the bike. Call it $900 just for the math. So that's $2000 just to be able to toe the starting line. But you still need rental car, airfare, accom., etc. Kona is an expensive trip. I figure it costs probably at least $3500 to do the race. That's a big outlay.

When I think of folks that are those "on the bubble" pros, I just don't see them shelling out that cash to do the race. I know that many people operate under the assumption of "if you get a chance to go to Kona, you do." And I can see that being true maybe once. But I don't see that you'll have these folks, on a consistent basis, going to Kona to race as the top-AG. It's just too expensive.

While I think that it's a ridiculous argument - on principle - that making tougher requirements for pros is bad because it makes qualifying for Kona as an age grouper harder, I also don't actually think that it's even factually true that it will happen, simply because of the cost associated with the trip.

"Non est ad astra mollis e terris via." - Seneca | rappstar.com | FB - Rappstar Racing | IG - @jordanrapp
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I am not sure what the big deal is when talking about the "bubble" pros. Aren't we talking about 2-3 spots at each race? And really it effects 2 or 3 age groups (i don't know the mean age of the pro's but I would say 30?)
Yes, getting to Kona _should_ be hard, it is the "world championship" after all.
As I said before, I don't thing it is a big issue.
Note: never done an IM and I haven't had a Bubble pro "steal" my kona spot :-)

Ewan

Ewan

-------------------------

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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I would say your estimate on cost is pretty accurate in my experience. AS you can them, the 'bubble pros' would already be willing to shell this money out. WTC could increase the Kona slots so that there are 2500 qualifiers next year and it would still sell out on rolldown by the 15th place person in most cases.

If the $$ was such a deterrent rolldowns would go much further already.

-- Aaron Davidson
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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There so much more in our sport than Kona. But for a small group of folks, it is their cult.

Dave Campbell | Facebook | @DaveECampbell | h2ofun@h2ofun.net

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Lions don't lose sleep worrying about the sheep
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I think anyone getting pissy at the thought of ex-pros now racing AG and taking away "their" Kona slots needs their head read...if you can't qualify by beating the best, then you have no business racing at a World Championship.



blood, sweat...and big gears

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ''Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.''
- Muhammad Ali
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I'm going to earn my Kona slot....and if I do it with ex-pros racing my AG, then all the better. Last thing I want is something to make it easier. A slot to Kona is not a right or privilege.



-Andrew
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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Those elitist jerks will just have to earn their Kona slots like
the rest of us. Through the lottery! ;)

-Jot
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [h2ofun] [ In reply to ]
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That's a sweeping generalization about athletes that target Kona as their 'goal.' I also think it's unfair to insinuate that somehow it's a negative.

I've never been to Kona and who knows if I ever will but I know for me Kona is such a draw because it's been made that way by the media, athletes, sponsors and just about everyone involved in triathlon; it's the ultimate Ironman experience. If by "small cult" you actually mean "most people in the sport" then maybe I'd agree with you. But you didn't and I don't.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I don't know if I agree with your math. If a pro qualifies for Kona, is airfare gratis? Is the Kona entry fee, car rental, and all the other variable costs you mentioned gratis too? I can see having to pony up a fee for entry into the domestic IM races to qualify, but all that other stuff seems like a fixed cost, bubble pro or not.

-------------------------------
Ignorance is bliss until they take your bliss away.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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Bubble pros are already taking Kona slots!

In the age groups that matter, 25-29 thru 35-39, the folks winning those age groups have basically the same speed as the "bubble" pros. I mean, don't pros usually start out as AG'ers?

And there are some AG'ers who are really good, but just rather be AG'ers than a bubble pro, so they stay an AG'er forever.

For some, the decision is very easy. The worst paid pro athlete in the world has got to be a 2nd tier pro triathlete. How much does your 9-5 job have to pay in order to totally swamp out what you could make as a bubble pro? $60k? $40k? Especially if you really realize that you've never going to be Crowie or Macca and always just a really fast dude. And what if your job is accommodating? Doesn't sound bad.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [jeffyj] [ In reply to ]
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I really don't see bubble pro's taking many slots, but they won't turn down their first!

A 'bubble' pro is probably better served dominating some local tri than just blowing a few grand at Kona. However, I could see a few of them taking a slot on a free ride by their sponsor; supporting the product before and after the race. Those are probably few and far between.

The whole Kona thing is a mess, competition seems through the roof. Unless you were born during the Civil War, you have to be faster than some bubble pros just to qualify these days.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I realize this probably won't make me very popular, but it seems to me that the whole "bubble pro" problem is just a symptom of a larger issue which is the structure of WTC (or whatever it's called now). Pro's are generally superflous in their business model. Taking a SWAG, I'd say less than 10% of people "racing" an Ironman really care who is lining up in the pro field, for most it is either about their bucket list or getting to Kona, hence the selfish whining about slots going to former pros.

WTC has no reason to pursue pro development or encourage the best talent, unlike USAC or USATF whose races are run with pro development, and not profit, specifically in mind.

Take the focus off of squeezing every last dime out of the largest number of people who want to get the M-dot tatoo and put it on developing a "Pro" sport where top athletes can make a living and the rest will fall into place.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I'm tempted to work out what last year's Kona field would have looked like under the new rules.

Not quite tempted enough to do it yet, but if anyone else fancies a go, I'm sure it'll be interesting.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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the answer is to categorize amateur athletes and hand out slots to the first 72 across the line, not by AG.

Eric Reid
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I thought if you had a pro card, you were not allowed to race as an age grouper that season, at least for USAT and US based races. I thought WTC used that same rule, such that you can't race all season as a "bubble" pro and then try to go AG for Kona.

Somebody with a USAT pro card, help us out here.

BrokenSpoke
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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Whether you race as a "bubble pro" or AG you still have to pay entry, airfare, hotel, etc. As a "bubble pro" you have to pay 100 to get a USTA card and 750 to WTC. As an AG you only have to pay like 35 for a USAT. The only down side is that you would have to sign up a year in advance for the qualifying race.

As a "bubble pro" I would have more interest in going to Kona as an AG and placing higher up the AG rankings. The top few AG get more press then the "bubble pro" coming in 20th and higher.

http://www.MikeCaiazzo.com
http://www.USProTri.com
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
I was thinking about this today, in light of some of the other discussions on the topic. There seems to be a fear among some age-groupers that so-called "2nd tier" or "on the bubble" pros will race AG instead of racing pro and go to Kona, thereby making it harder to qualify for Kona.

Mr. Rapp,

Someone once said "it's about the process. It doesn't matter what you do tomorrow and it doesn't matter what you did yesterday. It's about today, and making today count. That's especially true in training, but it's the same mentality that I carry into racing. Focus on the task at hand, not on the finish line, or the next part of the race, but what it is that is right there in front of you in the moment."

Perhaps I would have added that at especially at Ironman it is all irrelevant what everyone else does. If they dope, that is on them. If they draft that is one them. If they are fast ag's or slow pro's... all of those things are about them.

Alan

Checkout http://www.iotexpert.com
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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Ironman weather in Europe can also be quite different. And yes, generally speaking Europeans tend to be more judicious in their spending than Americans (but isn't everyone :))

Dan

http://www.aiatriathlon.com
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I often wondered why so many pros went to kona with no shot to place top 15 or 20. Year after year they'd go to end up as litter along the highway.

If I was a pro with limited income and limited resources, I might go to Kona 1x as a bubble pro, but odds are it's a trip that will not pan out.

The smarter play os stay closer to home, hopefully find some races that pay some $, are affordable and you can get a result to pad the resume in the hunt for sponsors.

I'm unlikely if I'm a tri related company to be impressed with a 5th at IMC and a 45th and IMH. I'm more likely to be impressed with a 5th at IMC and a 2nd at Tubby Tuba HIM and a 3rd at Billy Beer's olympic distance and some community service work thrown in here and there at the charities that the races help.

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter Aero testing late May, PM for details

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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [ericM35-39] [ In reply to ]
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Agree with Eric. Can't fathom of another "world championship" that divides everyone up by age first, or at least in such narrow 5 year buckets. Why? Aside from golf, this has to be the only sport in the world with over half the field at 40+. Maybe someone can correct this math, but I just don't get it. Maybe for AG awards, but not for championship qualifications!

I'm not saying that the 40+ crowd (or whatever cutoff you want to use) isn't fast or that I would at all be impacted by changing this, but it does strike me as really odd. If the first 75 (or somehow divided by gender) across the line is 40+ then great, but why slot everyone up first? Too much is already talked about who's aging up, how many rolldowns are in a certain AG, etc. It shouldn't matter! The fastest get the slots, period.

But the way it is now, the majority of bubble pros won't affect the 35+ age groups.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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I think a lot of the Top AGs will say, "I'd rather pay $850 and race a bunch of WTC IM and 70.3 races and not have to sign up in advance and not go to Kona and not win money than what I do now, which is not win money and pay a crap-load of entry fees and navigate my way through all the rest of the waves in front of me."

At least that's what I would say if I were able to secure one of those licenses.

For a Pro that's currently on the bubble what would they get out of racing Pro last year and AG this year if they're under 40? They beat all of the same people but now they get a little trophy?

I think we need to gravitate more toward what running does at big races. You know who won the M25-29 AG at the Chicago Marathon? Evans Cheruiyot, 2:06:25.

For the under 40 crowd why can't we have Cat 1/Pro,2,3, AG waves and the waves for the Masters age groups?

For Kona slots, what's the difference between a 34 year old racing M35-39 and a 29 y.o. racing M25-29? Nothing really, but we're not even competing against each other. Makes no sense. None.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [Rappstar] [ In reply to ]
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In most cases, I don't think the 'bubble pro' is put off by the cost of racing and qualifying as an AG athlete, any more so than your run of the mill AG athlete. Granted, their circumstances will have changed from the PRO racing logistics, but if the passion and commitment to qualify remain the same then the cost is a wash - just my opinion.

W/regards to 'bubble pros' pilfering AG spots to Kona, I have to somewhat disagree that (money aside) it's a gamble for one to make the transition to AG and risk being shut out (if I understood your position correctly). The bubble pros competing at their current level are basically a shoe in once they make the transition to AG. I quickly looked at the men's results from IMLP last summer, and there was only one AGer finishing among the top 10 MPROs, and two AGers among the top 13 MPROs (then the remainder of the MPRO field disintegrated). The top finisher in my AG (M30-34) wasn't even within 5 minutes of these top 13, several of whom (1) didn't qualify and (2) probably fell into the M30-34 category. Unless 7 or more of these 13 MPROs coincidentally fell into the same age group (which could be the case), all of them would have qualified by AG standards.

I'm not advocating that pros shouldn't race as AGers as a means of qualifying for Kona. I'm simply pointing out that I don't think it's all that far fetched for a dedicated pro to make the logical transition as a means to an end. If you want to run with the big dogs, then you get there by hook or crook - and yes, for all you haters, that does include the lottery :)

BTW, does anyone have a proportion for how many pros attempted to qualify in '09 (be it once or multiple times) versus how many actually qualified?

"The right to party is a battle we have fought, but we'll surrender and go Amish... NOT!" -Wayne Campbell
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [c.dan.jog] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
For the under 40 crowd why can't we have Cat 1/Pro,2,3, AG waves and the waves for the Masters age groups?

So instead of "buble" pros, you will have people complaining about the "sand baggers", isn't it the same?

======================
The older I get, the faster I was
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [tomertz] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
In Reply To:
For the under 40 crowd why can't we have Cat 1/Pro,2,3, AG waves and the waves for the Masters age groups?

So instead of "buble" pros, you will have people complaining about the "sand baggers", isn't it the same?
_______________________

There needn't be prizes or Kona slots for finishing 1st Cat 3. If you finish w/in a certain % of the winner's time you get to Cat-Up.

Besides, it will save time at the Awards ceremony.
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Re: "Bubble" Pros & Kona Slots [burnman] [ In reply to ]
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Using myself as an example, I am a pro who does not feed my family with my triahlon winnings and probably never will unless I start making 6 figures a year to offset the income from my real job. So according to some I am racing as a pro for the "wrong" reason and hence am a "bubble" pro and should be racing as an AG. So using your example of IMLP in 2009, which I happened to race I would have won my AG and if I wanted could have "taken" a Kona spot from a true AG athlete.

Mike

http://www.MikeCaiazzo.com
http://www.USProTri.com
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