But, after a few days now of constant absurd defenses, and the fact that the very governing body of the sport- IRONMAN- decided to uphold times, qualifications, and records of cheaters, I feel the urge to voice my opinion on a permanent platform as a participant, ambassador, and lover of triathlon for over a decade. After all, the day I can’t say what I think and feel, I’d rather be buried a few feet underground.
Numerous people took my anti-drafting comments over the weekend personal, and the defensive attacks commenced because when you’re guilty what else is left to do but defend and be paranoid that everything is about you?
To those, all I can say is that guilt you feel won’t go away any time soon; and my comments, along with hundreds of others that thought and wrote about the blatant drafting (aka cheating) over the weekend, were valid because it’s a sport/industry we’ve been a part of for over a decade and we’re incredibly sad to see how much it has decayed; because we have raced numerous IRONMANs and other non draft races letting packs (and slots, and PRs, and podiums) go by; and lastly, because if we don’t speak up and let this slide, what hope if any is left to save the essence of IRONMAN?
When I started racing in 2006, I got into it because I read articles, books, and watched documentaries about what IRONMAN and the people that did it were about- a desire to push the human body to its limits in an individual competition. Back then (yes even in 2006) it wasn’t about how many IM’s you’d done or how fast, or how expensive your bike was, or who designed your race outfit- but instead this community that shared a passion for athleticism and the outdoors. That’s it! How simple, how fun, how raw!
Despite my own achievements, I always (and more so to this day) felt like a goldfish in a sea of sharks, because I was fortunate enough to train with and be mentored by some of the most accomplished, ethical, and HUMBLE men and women in triathlon.
Now, it’s ego, it’s money, it’s whatever it takes to get that time and beat that person, and if it’s gotta be done wrong and dirty, “bring it!”… because the ego boost is more important than the ethics behind those achievements.
Records, and personal bests are meant to be broken, and as a lover of all sports, there is no one I cheer for more than the bad ass hard worker that makes shit happen and breaks those barriers- even if those are mine or a friend’s. In fact, it only drives my motivation and appreciation for what we’re all capable of. With one simple condition: that it’s done clean. Drafting, like doping, is illegal in IRONMAN racing- you draft, you’re cheating, and your outcome on that day is not legit. Period.
Regardless if they’re my own family member or close friend- independent of the love and care that will always remain intact, my respect for them as an athlete goes to zero.
So, with a heavy heart, I accept losing “friends” and watching our dear sport deteriorate, while upholding my principles. For me, and for the vast majority, what happened in Texas (and in any other race where athletes stood behind their artificial times despite cheating), is a disgrace, and does not count for anything except a colossal disappointment of the brand itself and the people that chose to break the rules.
The only plus side to IRONMAN Texas having the most blatant and massive violations I think of all time, along with the race officials not patrolling the course, is that hopefully this will spark more consciousness into the triathlon industry in general, and the cheating-inclined will think twice before going down that path the next time they race.
Work hard. Race clean.