Tuesday, August 09, 2011

This isn't Disneyland!

I am feeling very conflicted about if I will do the Iron Girl next year. Although the race was extremely well run and I had a great time, the overall *feel* of the race bothers me.

It isn't just the Iron Girl either, but races like the IG that are marketing machines. In my humble opinion I feel these races are taking advantage of the sport(s) to manipulate the masses to "experience" a triathlon or marathon. Corporations put on these races to sell the sport as if people were going to Disneyland.

The selling of the experience of the sport(s) is my biggest pet peeve. A marathon and/or triathlon is *not a ride in the park. It is a SPORT. Plain and simple. It is a sport you work hard training for so you are mentally and physically prepared to experience the sport as it was intended; a test of endurance for the mind and the soul.

To be completely honest, I did chose a huge race for my first marathon because I wanted to be in with thousands of runners and have tons of crowd support. I fell for the marketing. I wanted to experience a huge race. I did and I saw first hand what these races were really about. At the Philly expo they filter people through the Philly store before you could get to the rest of the vendors. They wanted to get you in their gift shop first. At that moment I knew this was a money making machine and I was the cog that kept it going, but I was okay with it. Just like the other thousands of people, I plunked my money down on merchandise.

So, this is why I am conflicted. I do like the idea of big races getting people, especially, women out there to exercise and learn the sport(s). The marketing..cough..manipulation..cough..will get women to sign-up. It is chance for women to discover their potential in the sport(s) and to realize how good it feels to get fit, but more importantly get rewarded for hard work by finishing. There are women who do this race and get it. They love it because they put in a lot effort into their training and get to feel that great sense of accomplishment of finishing. With that being said, it is the *other* participants that make me nuts. They want entrance into the park and nothing more. They get on their scooters and eat turkey legs all day long. And they come in droves.

Why does this bother me so much? Why do I let it bother me? But it does. It makes me angry and I get really offended when I hear women talk about how they haven't trained. A friend told me that women just want to experience a tri when I was going off on how if I hear one more person tell me they didn't really train for the IG I was going to go bat shit crazy. What pisses me off is that they are not taking the sport(s) seriously and I feel it is extremely disrespectful to the other participants who did train and work hard to cross the finish line. IT IS A SPORT, NOT A TEA PARTY. Yet. They get the medal too. But I can't put all the blame on them because they did drank the IG kool-aid: anyone can do a triathlon.

Yes. Anyone can do a sprint triathlon or a marathon without much training or any training. But isn't' the point of training to prepare the body to do the best you can do physically and mentally? When people tell me they haven't trained, I want to ask them if they would have their child join a sport without practice? Gee, Jimmy, you don't need football practice, just get out there and play. What? Jimmy doesn't want to play anymore because it was too hard or he got hurt?

The hard truth is that tri's and marathons are **dangerous. People need to wipe the fairy dust from their face and come to grips that training is an important element so you don't get hurt. Take it seriously. Get yourself prepared and I guarantee the feeling of crossing the finish line will be much sweeter. Also, if you don't take the sport seriously and haven't trained then may I suggest you keep your mouth shut. For us who put in a lot of time, sweat and tears to get ready to push ourselves, we do not appreciate hearing how you didn't train, but will finish and get a medal.

So do I do the IG again knowing this? And knowing it will be worse next year because they are upping the field to 1800 instead of 1200. Should I pay my money to an organization that I do have some issues with? Am I am going to let the attitude of the non-serious participants drive me to not doing the race, when really, I should be focused on my performance and not those of others?

Again. Conflicted.

Thoughts appreciated.

*Well, maybe the kind that makes you want to poop your pants.
**When I say dangerous, I mean it can be dangerous when you don't know what you are doing. You are putting yourself and others at risk.


Kristin said...

I totally agree with you and felt the same exact way. I was a TRI-Zilla because of these racers 3 YEARS in a row!!! I REFUSE to do the race next year!! I let it bother me every year. I had a women ask me where she should change?? Another person asked which leg goes first? Swim? REALLY?!! Get out of my WAY!! :)

4crazygreys said...

Wow. I don't even know how I would have responded to someone asking me which leg goes first?! I guess I would ask what color swim cap she was and pray she wasn't in my bracket.

As for the person asking where to change, you should have said in the car on your way home. Bye, bye!

Dawn said...

I agree with you. It's definitely frustrating to get stuck around those people that have no idea what they're doing, and people need to have SOME idea of what they're getting themselves into when they sign up for these things.

That said, I do enjoy the big corporate races every now and then. There's something fun about the "party" atmosphere around the expo and the race themselves. I don't want to see these races go away entirely, but there needs to be some responsibility around the marketing.

Honestly, I find the biggest offenders of this to be a lot of the charity groups. They seem to specifically target beginners, and, yeah, they have training programs and mentors and everything, but once you're in? The focus is NOT on the training, but on the fundraising. I suppose at least most of these people can do the race itself in a group and have access to an experienced racer, even if they don't use it.