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Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up
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I've been scratching my head a lot lately trying to understand the group of pro triathletes who seem to DNF without a care, never place (win/podium), or race so little throughout the year. This is not a hate thread, it's just straight up curiosity of how the industry works. So the two names that pop up immediately are Pete Jacobs and Clayton Fettell. Both athletes are tremendous athletes who have shown moments of brilliance and were believed to be forces who would be in the sport for a long time. In more recent years these two athletes seem to not really have any results and in Pete's case he has seemingly stepped away completely from the sport. Clayton Fettell dropped out of IM Cairns and seemed to be totally cool about it. Everybody complains about the money in triathlon, but obviously it's better than I think it is because people seem to do alright while posting DNF's or stepping away from the sport completely. Is the sponsorship money enough to pay the bills year in and year out?

Again, I'm not trying to hate on these two athletes, I just don't understand the economics of the sport work. How can the sport be underpaid if it allows you to DNF without a care or completely walk away from the sport? I'm just super curious how these athletes make it work.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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aerobean wrote:
I've been scratching my head a lot lately trying to understand the group of pro triathletes who seem to DNF without a care, never place (win/podium), or race so little throughout the year. This is not a hate thread, it's just straight up curiosity of how the industry works. So the two names that pop up immediately are Pete Jacobs and Clayton Fettell. Both athletes are tremendous athletes who have shown moments of brilliance and were believed to be forces who would be in the sport for a long time. In more recent years these two athletes seem to not really have any results and in Pete's case he has seemingly stepped away completely from the sport. Clayton Fettell dropped out of IM Cairns and seemed to be totally cool about it. Everybody complains about the money in triathlon, but obviously it's better than I think it is because people seem to do alright while posting DNF's or stepping away from the sport completely. Is the sponsorship money enough to pay the bills year in and year out?

Again, I'm not trying to hate on these two athletes, I just don't understand the economics of the sport work. How can the sport be underpaid if it allows you to DNF without a care or completely walk away from the sport? I'm just super curious how these athletes make it work.

I actually was going to post something about that. I raced Cairns and there were a few Pros that dropped out. Kind of disappoints me. I got the impression, some of them go balls to wall trying to place well, going way too hard attempting to keep up and then bail on the race when they overcook it. All that money and time, flying to races to just quit because you feel tired?
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [zedzded] [ In reply to ]
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I can understand overcooking it, but I don't understand DNF's without any redemption plan. Isn't it their job and livelihood to execute in races? It seems like they are pretty content to just DNF and write it off. The whole thing is tantamount to an office worker taking 2 months off from work, subsequently getting fired, and then saying "no worries, didn't have it today or the past two months. "
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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aerobean wrote:
I can understand overcooking it, but I don't understand DNF's without any redemption plan. Isn't it their job and livelihood to execute in races? It seems like they are pretty content to just DNF and write it off. The whole thing is tantamount to an office worker taking 2 months off from work, subsequently getting fired, and then saying "no worries, didn't have it today or the past two months. "

I'm scared to DNF because it opens a door than has always been closed to me i.e you don't quit. I think as soon as quitting becomes an option it would be an easy option to take when the shit hits the fan. It can't do much for their resilience. Obviously if you're risking injury or illness by carrying on then yeah DNF, but you get a flat or can't change gears or whatever, just crack on.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [zedzded] [ In reply to ]
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It isn't because they are tired. There is a huge difference between completing and Ironman and racing an Ironman and racing for a career. I don't think there is a single pro out there that thinks racing Ironman is actually healthy. It doesn't make good business sense to complete a race if you are putting more wear and tear on finite engine that can't just be rebuilt. If you do over cook it, do you really want to put more wear and tear on the body with sloppy form and risk injury. To answer the original op, check out Cody Beal's Budget or Brad Williams Budget. The fact that these two even publish this automatically boosts them into a different category of pro's punching above their race results, although Cody has really been racking up some wins. Pete was a world champion so there is that. I can't speak to Clayton and his situation.

Probably the most consistent athletes from a revenue generation prospective are the pro triathlon coaches. Some are making $150,000+ doing what they love, coaching, while participating in pro triathlon at a level above age-group. They aren't trying to make any money from race winnings, just using it as opportunity to keep relevancy while scratching that race itch.


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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [Thomas Gerlach] [ In reply to ]
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Cody's annual budgets are a great look inside, but Cody is also showing up and racing. Cody has had some good results this year, but even if he didn't he still shows up. Fettell and Jacobs went from leading out of the swim in Kona to being almost completely absent from the race scene. Winning races is great because the prize money can somewhat negate the travel costs, but the act of showing up is the value-added for sponsors. I can't imagine any sponsor wants to cut a check to somebody who never races or DNF's without any care. I just have to think that the sponsorship money has to be close to drying up for those two. I can't imagine that Wynn Republic is cutting 5-6 figure checks.

How do Jacobs and Fettell have multiple sponsors while Andrew Starykowicz seemingly races at every 70.3 and can't get a single sponsor beyond Orbea. Starky shows up and goes all out and gets results more often than not, that's a commendable athlete. I would throw some serious cash behind a guy who races with his heart out and gets a lot of attention out front. I'm just perplexed how guys can just be comfortable with not racing or DNF'ing on the regular. Beals budget doesn't seem applicable because the guy actually races.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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aerobean wrote:
I've been scratching my head a lot lately trying to understand the group of pro triathletes who seem to DNF without a care, never place (win/podium), or race so little throughout the year. This is not a hate thread, it's just straight up curiosity of how the industry works. So the two names that pop up immediately are Pete Jacobs and Clayton Fettell. Both athletes are tremendous athletes who have shown moments of brilliance and were believed to be forces who would be in the sport for a long time. In more recent years these two athletes seem to not really have any results and in Pete's case he has seemingly stepped away completely from the sport. Clayton Fettell dropped out of IM Cairns and seemed to be totally cool about it. Everybody complains about the money in triathlon, but obviously it's better than I think it is because people seem to do alright while posting DNF's or stepping away from the sport completely. Is the sponsorship money enough to pay the bills year in and year out?

Again, I'm not trying to hate on these two athletes, I just don't understand the economics of the sport work. How can the sport be underpaid if it allows you to DNF without a care or completely walk away from the sport? I'm just super curious how these athletes make it work.

Well, some of them do get comped for travel and receive free entries, and some also do actually work at the races for their sponsors in some function or another.
But yeah, it mostly is because they just can't let go of no longer being a competitive athlete.
.
Otherwise there would be no reason to toe the line.
.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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Pete's have been well documented (Clayton's less), but both athletes have had injury/illness setbacks in the last few years.

And Thomas Gerlach is also correct, as competing for a living is different than completing triathlons as a hobby. For them, if they see that they're out of contention for a race, it may make more physical and financial sense to DNF and move on to the next race. Different from age groupers who put all their (financial) eggs in a couple of races a year.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [Diabolo] [ In reply to ]
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I totally agree that it's better to DNF and rebound in 2 weeks for another race. My problem is that you don't really see Pete or Clayton at any other races, so how can they be so casual about DNF'ing or abstaining from racing all together?
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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Well Pete’s body is done, I’m not sure why he tries anymore. Not sure on Clayton, haven’t really followed him.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [TriguyBlue] [ In reply to ]
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I think a lot of people have a pro license without actually being pro /having any shot at podium.
For the 70.3 EU champs this sunday there is like 60 male pros signed up, i bet atleast 30 of them are just people who got their pro license, and want to try and race against the best. And i fully understand that, but they would maybe also be the ones that will never podium and maybe cancel some races due to normal work/family life etc.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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The overwhelmingly majority of pro's don't rely on race winnings. Well if they do, they are not very smart. Race winnings are like bonuses throughout the year with other sources (sponsors, working part time, etc) being their base salary. Though... people underestimate how much most pro's are getting from their sponsors (it's not much..... people were shocked when they saw Rapp's Dimond contract). Pro's also seem to live very basic lives (unless you are Rinny/TO, Jan, Sebi, Ryf, etc) and are quite resourceful.

Look at AJ Baucco for a perfect example. He has essentially zero results as a pro (not trying to be rude... it's just the truth) but yet he seems to be doing pretty damn good with his sponsors and coaching business and whatever else he is doing to bring in income. Color me impressed.

get comfortable being uncomfortable
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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How do Jacobs and Fettell have multiple sponsors while Andrew Starykowicz seemingly races at every 70.3 and can't get a single sponsor beyond Orbea.


The most likely reason if you look closely at it, is that there is a correlation between the level of sponsorship that an athlete has and how seriously they take that sport in that country or how big the sport is.

So in this case we are comparing Australia to the U.S. - sports such as triathlon in Australia have a considerably higher profile in the country. In the U.S. triathlon for the most part is completely off the radar screen and still looked upon as somewhat of a fringe extreme sport.

In Germany it's the same - the likes of Frodeno and Keinle, pull down substantially more in straight up sponsorship than say a Lionel Sanders. Frodeno has Mercedes as one of his sponsors! I'm sure Lionel could not even get a meeting with a car company in Canada or the U.S.!


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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If this bothers you, don't research how often the people who aren't the GC contender DNF or pack it in the "groupetto" in bike racing. You'd really scratch your head.

"Well, I did my work in the break.......time to pull off and go to the team bus so that they aren't waiting on me to get to the airport on time."
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [burnthesheep] [ In reply to ]
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If this bothers you, don't research how often the people who aren't the GC contender DNF or pack it in the "groupetto" in bike racing. You'd really scratch your head.

"Well, I did my work in the break.......time to pull off and go to the team bus so that they aren't waiting on me to get to the airport on time."



Doesn't bother me.

This has been a part of professional bike racing for years. You also see this in amateur/masters racing as well. If you get dropped from the main group, might as well pull-out, no point trashing yourself. There's another race next week!


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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First, factually inaccurate to say that Andrew's only sponsor is Orbea. Although Orca is technically part of the same company. But you've also got Base, Vision, Polar, Giro, Torhans, and Wahoo. He's also of the mindset of sticking with a partner for a long period of time - he's been with Orbea/Orca forever and a day now.

Now, secondly - you're making the assumption that the race result is really the only thing that the sponsor values. Which, well, worked in 1992. But race results alone are not what a sponsor looks to value at this point in time. Results help. But it's about how you can use your partnership to help provably sell more product. You can do that with digital media. You can do that with local relationships that you cultivate. You can do that with coaching or training groups that you help establish. Racing, on its own, does not.

As for DNFs: pulling the plug on a bad race is perfectly acceptable IMO. It's part of the mindset switch that occurs from racing as an AGer to racing professionally. You have to pick your spots when your resources are finite.

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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [Thomas Gerlach] [ In reply to ]
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Thomas - when are you going to start coaching? :D
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [stevej] [ In reply to ]
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stevej wrote:

Look at AJ Baucco for a perfect example. He has essentially zero results as a pro (not trying to be rude... it's just the truth) but yet he seems to be doing pretty damn good with his sponsors and coaching business and whatever else he is doing to bring in income. Color me impressed.
I think AJ is a bit of an exception to the rule. He's not a triathlon superstar but works hard, parties hard, is very passionate about the sport but needs to fight hard so age groupers might recognize themselves in him more. Plus he has his own unique personality and teaching background that also help him succeed as a coach. But his coaching business is still young so he needs to continue racing to remain relevant and people won't be asking who the f#ck is AJ Baucco.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [zedzded] [ In reply to ]
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zedzded wrote:
I think as soon as quitting becomes an option it would be an easy option to take when the shit hits the fan.



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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [aerobean] [ In reply to ]
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aerobean wrote:
I totally agree that it's better to DNF and rebound in 2 weeks for another race. My problem is that you don't really see Pete or Clayton at any other races, so how can they be so casual about DNF'ing or abstaining from racing all together?

For a lot of Pro's, I don't blame them for a DNF. If you don't have it on race day, then you're better off calling it quits to avoid getting hurt. They have to pay the long game.

For those two in particular, it's a fair point. If you want to quit so you can try again in 2 weeks that's one thing. For them, maybe someone who knows them can chime in.
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [Thomas Gerlach] [ In reply to ]
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How does Cody do $250 a month for food?
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [stevej] [ In reply to ]
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I think this also is evident in the ones that make themselves accessible to the community at large. They realize the value in reaching the broader audience via it through sponsor engagements, coaching, etc.

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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [LifeTri] [ In reply to ]
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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [TriathlonJoe] [ In reply to ]
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TriathlonJoe wrote:
Thomas - when are you going to start coaching? :D

No plans to coach in the near future but if you have training/equipment/recovery questions you can always message me and I'll answer.


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Re: Pro triathletes who DNF or never podium/win/show-up [stevej] [ In reply to ]
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This.


stevej wrote:
The overwhelmingly majority of pro's don't rely on race winnings. Well if they do, they are not very smart. Race winnings are like bonuses throughout the year with other sources (sponsors, working part time, etc) being their base salary. Though... people underestimate how much most pro's are getting from their sponsors (it's not much..... people were shocked when they saw Rapp's Dimond contract). Pro's also seem to live very basic lives (unless you are Rinny/TO, Jan, Sebi, Ryf, etc) and are quite resourceful.

Look at AJ Baucco for a perfect example. He has essentially zero results as a pro (not trying to be rude... it's just the truth) but yet he seems to be doing pretty damn good with his sponsors and coaching business and whatever else he is doing to bring in income. Color me impressed.
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