Ironman triathlon champions are often regarded as superheroes of modern sports, with oddly fit specimens that swim, cycle, and run a combined 140.6 miles in about eight hours.
Nevertheless, professional triathletes have long since been poorly compensated in a sport that has always prioritized everyday amateur participants Those who drown in training before and after work and pay about $ 1,000 to enter a race.
It may be on the verge of change, beginning this weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla. While many of the sport’s top professionals will launch a championship circuit, they hope the golf and tennis championships will be equally attractive to them. In the process, they are trying to oust Ironman, the company that has dominated the triathlon for decades, as the dominant competition for elite triathletes.
“It was really hard to live as a professional triathlet since I started in 2008,” said Tim Odonnell, who has won more than 40 times in a 40-year triathlon event. “Most athletes are trying to pay their bills.”
The new series of events, supported by the professional triathletes organization, is a Bhagwat alliance between 350 top triathletes and many deep-pocketed investors, Latest efforts by top athletes To control their careers and become highly compensated partners with the games they play, rather than underworld independent contractors.
Although the history of the game is replete with leagues and tours that appear to be theoretically perfect but found after failing to gain an audience, the change can be dramatic. In the 1960s, the Wimbledon semifinalists received two pair of shorts from Sports Emporium Lillivitas in London. Then, the Grand Slam began allowing professionals and in the early 1970s, tennis players took control of their tours. Last year, a Wimbledon semifinalist earned $ 750,000 and the singles champion earned about $ 3 million.
By comparison, in 2019, on the total prize money Ironman World Championship in Kona, HawaiiThe triathlon had a Super Bowl, $ 650,000. The winners won $ 120,000. Earlier this year, Advance Publications, the media company, Bought Ironman for $ 730 million.
“These athletes should be highly paid,” said Charles Adamo, executive chairman of the Professional Triathletes Organization.
An Ironman spokesman declined to comment.
Adamo likes the world’s top triathletes and investors Michael Moritz, billionaire venture capitalist A race series is planned with four major individual competitions and an annual team event, similar to the championship schedule in tennis and golf.
Each event will feature 60 top professional men and 60 top professional women. The events will offer more than $ 1 million in prize money that will share the top 20 athletes – significantly more than the typical triathlon competition.
Instead of the 180.7-mile Ironman distance or Iron.0.3-mile half-Ironman, the new contests will be 100 kilometers, approximately 42 miles, and will include a 1.2 mile swim, a 4-mile bike ride and a half-Marion (13 .1 mi)). The weekend race will take place at Daytona International Speedway, with competitors swimming in the large lake.
Shorter distances ensure that competitions can end within a more television friendly window of about three and a half hours. This will allow elite athletes to conduct more than one high-profile competitions, otherwise they may take place in a year. O’Donnell predicted that the top triathletes would compete in the new group’s five events, as well as a regular Ironman event to qualify for Kona and if they make it to the World Championship.
The increased prize money should provide an incentive for triathletes to compete head to head more often.
Rachel Joyce, a retired champion And the co-chairman of the triathletes organization said that he and other top triathletes regularly raced in which he knew a weak field would give him the best chance to win a winner’s salary and firstly a sponsor bonus.
“It makes that kind of boring work when your nearest competitor is 20 minutes behind you,” Joyce said in an interview last month.
It is part of the down side of the professional triathlon, a sport that began As a lark in California and Hawaii in the 1970s. The nasty secret about elite trialettes, their chiselled physics, the $ 8,000 bike and training programs that allow for unlimited chocolate cream pie, is that for most professionals, salaries are relatively inferior.
The Nets’ Kevin Durant will reach $ 40 million this season, not counting the millions more that he earns through sponsors. In 2019, Jan Frodeno of Germany, the Ironman World Champion And some of the triathletes to the deity, paid like a decent accountant for their victories, took home $ 158,000 in prize money. Katie Zeffers of the United States, who led the prize money list for both men and women in 2019, earned $ 347,500. Just $ 80,000 for a win was good enough for a chance Top 10 in the money list. For the best, endorsement deals can boost income – to the extent of a poor middle relief pitcher – but since triathlon is barely on television, those lucrative endorsement deals are increasingly difficult for all-coming superstars .
“The best triathletes are doing very well, but the middle and bottom are hurting,” said Rocky Harris, chief executive of the USA Triathlon, the sport’s national governing body.
Alyssa Dohela was a professional marathoner until 2016, when she decided to pursue a triathlon. She estimates the switch required for a $ 20,000 investment in equipment. He had five top 10 finishes in the half-Ironman events in 2017. She then hit a truck while training in 2018.. She has returned to competitions, saying that she breaks down as much as possible that the first year she has definitely not been since.
“It’s so expensive, where she was training for this weekend’s race at Daytona Beach,” said 34-year-old Dohela from her home in Indiana last month. “My husband has a good job. For those who are not lucky enough to have a spouse, they support them in the lean years, it is a tough game. “
The new series will only work when fans actually watch. This will increase media rights fees and motivate potential sponsors to reach a much desired audience.
USA Triathlon Average income found for all triathletes Is over $ 125,000. The sport’s boosters like to portray triathlon as a 21st-century version of golf – a favorite activity among white-collar executives obsessively observing the data of their Garmin watches that their predecessors made golf handicaps Was given But participatory endurance sports have always been about raising the entry fee rather than creating stars who compete for million-dollar purses and creating compelling television sports dramas.
Some 100 media outlets around the world, including NBC’s Peacock Streaming service, will feature the Daytona Beach Race this weekend. Going forward though, the organizers need long-term rights and sponsorship deals.
The new effort plans to allow the weekend warriors to take part in its competitions, but their entry fees will not be enough for the organization to maintain and the prize money it wants to offer.
Chris Kermode, who ran the ATP Tour of tennis and is now the Vice Chairman of the Professional Triathletes Organization, said that if the Sleep Television Championship
Snookers and darts can make celebrity champions, triathletes, who are usually more attractive physical specimens than dart throwers or billiards players, should be able to find their way.
“The principles of all games are fundamentally similar,” Kermode said. “It’s about making people care about winning one person over another. Everyone has a story and if you tell that story then you can take care of people. “