Ironman® Jumps Into Olympic-Distance Race Scene with the 5150 Series

Since the Iron and Half-Iron distances weren't enough, Ironman® is now jumping into the Olympic-distance races.  "World Triathlon will dub its new series 5150, a reference to the 51.5-kilometer length of the Olympic race."

Not just for endurance athletes anymore
Honestly, I'm kind of bummed about this.  I have always revered the Ironman® brand to the longer distances and the physical and mental challenge that these races represent.  Seeing the 70.3 and 140.6 stickers have always inspired me. They represent a level of accomplishment - in training and sacrifice that an athlete is willing to undertake to push their limits of ability.  An Olympic-distance race (while admirable) ... not so much.

"A 2009 USA Triathlon survey found that only 17% of triathletes had finished an Ironman race in the past year. But 58% had finished an Olympic-distance race."

As you probably know, the real money in the races isn't the registration fees. It's in the merchandise sold that generates the largest profits. So, now World Triathlon can capture the 58+% of the market in apparel and thousands of triathletes will be sporting the M-dot logo from one of the 13 or more races they'll be adding next year.  Ca-ching!  As a pure cash generator, you can't argue that it is a marketing genius move. 

I can't help but wonder if these participants will consider themselves an Ironman because they finished an Olympic?  Maybe get an Ironman® tattoo, too?  If people get an outline for a Half Iron, wonder what they'll do for the Olympic... maybe just the outline with no head?  Okay, I'm getting snarky. 

Honestly, I just feel that it cheapens the brand.  I won't even wear a non-event specific piece of Ironman® clothing. I guess I just feel that the Ironman® brand represents the events that you've competed in - not just a generic Nike swoosh on a sweatshirt.  And - even after completing Ironman Texas - I still don't think I would wear just a shirt or a hat with a plain Ironman® logo on it.  Maybe I'm a bit of a purist, but it's just the level of respect that I have for the brand.

Alright, well that's enough of my huffing and puffing.  Happy Kona week!  That's a "real" Ironman® race, right?

Here's a link to the full article the snippets were quoted from:


Patty said...

The outline of the tattoo without the head. That made me laugh. Enough to read your whole blog entry outloud to my husband!!

Patrick Mahoney said...

I appreciate you protecting the integrity of the Ironman(r) mark while bashing them for the getting into Olympic races.

I agree, it's weak. If they were smart they'd fund another company/brand to do this because the one thing (I hope) will come out of this is a consistently high quality race experience for this distance.

Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

It's called "tough love!" Ha! :)

Unknown said...

I'm with you... it just opens the door for others to say "I'm an Ironman" and then people to ask "how long was it". Kind like the "I do marathons... the 5 mile kind". Might be snarky, but it's true...

Donna said...

Just ran across your blog via a Google -- so glad I did. I find this ironic because Ironman took over the 70.3 at Lonestar, but they did away with the Olympic distance altogether for 2011 -- so one day is the Sprint and the other the 70.3.

You know, even for the half I wouldn't get a tattoo. I know someone who did. They got the M-dot that had a 70.3 in the feet of "M", this way they could fill it in once they've done a full.

Also, I would never call myself an Ironman just because I've done a 70.3. To me, that term is still reserved for 140.6 finishers... but that's just me.

Hope you have a great Kona-watch party to attend! I'm making hubs find a way to connect our TV to the internet! :)

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