Relays in an Ironman event, will it hurt the brand?

Yesterday World Triathlon Corp, owners of the Ironman, announced a relay division in some of their 70.3 events.


Ironman is the marquee name in the world of triathlon. From the World Championship in Kona Hawaii to the 70.3 or Half Ironman races in places like Muncie, IN it’s supposed to be the ultimate tests of endurance. Your body remains in constant motion from 4 to 17 hours depending on how fast you are.

In an article from Outside Magizine, the question was asked Why race an Ironman?

“Because marathon’s have been ruined by people who think it’s fine to walk.”

That was a great line! It really hammers home why people not only do triathlon, but why they choose an Ironman event. So it makes me wonder why, with that kind of following opening up some races to relay teams seemed like a good idea?

The Chicago Marathon, a World Major Marathon does not allow any relay teams (unless you’re Hope Solo). They are asked to make exceptions every year, and respond to each one the same way. 

“We do not have a relay division. Each participant must individually complete the full 26.2 mile distance.”

The Ironman website says the purpose of the relays is “For those who want to try triathlon, but don’t feel quite ready for all three disciplines.”

Well if you’re not ready for all THREE disciplines in a TRIathalon, that might be a good goal to set for yourself. Think about it… if you’re a runner and your not ready to run marathon or half marathon, you would most likely train, run shorter races and eventually build up to your goal of completing your desired race… TA-DAAAA!!!

If Ironman wants to continue to brand itself as one of the most difficult major endurance events, don’t open up races to everyone who wants an M-Dot t-shirt. If you’re just looking to get started in triathlon this coming season, find a training program or coach, some sprint or olympic distance races, and train hard to perform well!

Coach Jen just said to me yesterday when I was unmotivated to swim “Winners are made in the winter.”

Happy Training

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