For most of the year I’ve been thinking about how I am going to obtain entry into an official full Ironman distance event (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). There are 24 “officially sponsored” Ironman annual events and they’re far and hard to get into, due to their popularity in the triathlon community.
Lately I’ve had my heart set on the Lake Placid event. In part due to the town’s Olympic history and also its proximity to home, compared to the other events around the country and worldwide. Registration for this event opened at noon on July 26th. I hit the site @ 12:03 and it was already sold out. Opportunity #1 missed.
My coach recently told me that Lake Placid has a sister race – the Providence Half Ironman – whose participants have first dibs at registering for next year’s Lake Placid Ironman. “Great.” I thought, “That’s my way in. I’ll do the half this year and get into Lake Placid for 2012!” I eagerly awaited registration to open for the Providence, Rhode Island event and got my slot yesterday. I later read in the FAQ of the event that they will no longer have Lake Placid sign ups at Providence. Damn! Opportunity #2 missed.
After further research I learned about something called the Lake Placid Executive Challenge. If you sign up, you get first class accommodations for you and your family at the event, easier check in services, free bike shipping and some other goodies. It actually looked like they had spots available via this route for 2011. Price tag $6,500. Youch!! I really want to do this event but paying that much (and not even to a charity) is ridiculous. Opportunity #3 = rip off.
Now I remember receiving an Ironman newsletter announcing a new program last week called the Ironman Access Program. For $1,000 a year, members get preferred registration for any Ironman event worldwide. Since these races are so hard to get into, I figured that $1,000 was an acceptable price to pay to allow me to get into almost any Ironman or Half Ironman event. Still pricy but I begrudgingly signed up at around noon yesterday. Now I’m happy that Lake Placid 2012 is a real possibility. Opportunity #4 has a chance of success.
At 5:30 PM yesterday I received an email from Ironman World Headquarters stating that they are canceling the Access Program due to overwhelming negative feedback. You should see the outrage on the Ironman facebook page. Here is one excerpt:
“I want the names of all the idiots that signed up for the program…probably the same jack wads who register for multiple events every year and only complete one. You know, the one’s with $10,000 bikes and matching custom kits who stroll across the line just under 17 hours…”
For the record, I attend every event I register for. I don’t have a $10,000 bike and I don’t wear custom race kits that match my bike and though I haven’t done a FULL Ironman distance tri yet, I’m pretty confident I can finish before the 17 hour cutoff.
So as I’m thinking that Opportunity #4 is fading away…. I get to the last (and best) part of the email:
“All members will be refunded the full amount ($1,000 USD) plus processing fees. Please allow 5-7 days for this to reflect on your credit card statement. As a courtesy and gesture of goodwill, we would like to extend a complimentary entry into a 2011 Ironman event of your choice. Please E-mail me the event that you would like to register for no later than November 8th and Ironman Athlete Services will reach out to you to coordinate your registration.
They had a reply from me in less than 10 seconds. So by the sound of it – July 24th, Lake Placid Ironman 2011 here I come! I can already feel the pain.