My problem with this that there are people who shouldn't be allowed in the race because there is no qualifier to do an Ironman.
It is absolutely ridiculous. It's billed as the toughest event on Earth, but you can have people on the starting line that have no clue what they are doing. It makes it dangerous for themselves and for everybody around them.
It's an obvious money-grab by Ironman to not deter any potential customers. But they could easily make up the money by mandating having completed a 70.3 under a certain time before you can do your first Ironman or if you haven't done one in many years. Marketing a "Path to Ironman" with a couple 70.3s and then a full 140.6 would generate a lot of revenue and eliminate a lot of the people who shouldn't be there at all.
If you want to do Ultraman, you have to have done an Ironman in the previous year or something like that. Ironman should mandate at least a 70.3 recently with a time under X (depending on the course). That extra drama could spice things up a bit, too. :)
I'm all in on this idea... qualification through 70.3 would be an interesting path to see played out.
My thought comes back to a person who may choose not to do a second loop of the swim for a couple reasons.
1- it's not competing within the rules of the event... Similar to how I feel about drafting, it makes me upset that someone would sign up and not follow through on the rules of the event... I suppose if this person decided not to do the second loop of the swim, addressed their concern to the RD then and there, and asked permission to complete the bike and run
I'd be less upset or really care. If the inability to complete the second loop is due to equipment, I'd like to see someone try to work it out. Wetsuit ripped? Strip it, hand it off to a volunteer, and swim. Goggles, see if you can bum a back-up somehow or swim head's up breaststroke. Part of what I have enjoyed in my limited exposure to long course is that a perfect day is rare. It's also about how you handle the things that don't go right.
2- Say this person comes out in one hour from the first swim loop and jumps on a bike. That's upper MOP for the whole swim. This may put them on course with a whole group of individuals of a separate skill level and could cause issues. Perhaps their cycling skills are worlds above the swimming skills, but maybe not. When the bike leg gets difficult at mile 90, is this person going to flag down SAG, ride back to transition, and jump on the run course?
As for grabbing hardware, I can't think in my mind how I would feel good about doing this. The medals aren't important to me but they say "finisher" on them. I couldn't call myself a finisher if I didn't actually do the event. So why grab a medal? May I have spent >$700 to do the event? Yep, and it's definitely part of the motivation to stick with it when it's difficult.
If you french fry when you should have pizza'd, you're gonna have a bad day...