In their desperation to rescue a failed concept, Ironman University this morning sent out an email to all registered pro athletes outlining nearly everything that is wrong about professional coaching within our sport.
The WTC are now offering struggling pro athletes the opportunity to pay a discounted $349 so they too can take part in a 14 hour online course and call themselves ‘Ironman Certified Coaches’.
It’s pathetic on so many levels.
Firstly, this is Ironman making an admission – we know we don’t pay you enough to make a living as a pro athlete, so instead of addressing that we’ll offer you a $349 course so you can make us even more money by coaching our growing list of naïve age-groupers.
As a kicker we’ll reserve the right to use your name and image as a further endorsement of our hideously insufficient coaching product.
But exploiting money-starved pros is nothing new.
The bigger issue I’d like to address is that there’s no respect for the coaching process nor any basic understanding of what makes successful coaches in the first place.
Using the weight of the Ironman brand to endorse ‘coaches’ who have spent 0 hours poolside, roadside or trackside actually working with athletes is irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst.
The idea that one can be equipped to train people for the biggest endurance test of their lives after a computer module that takes less time to complete than the race itself is obscene. These people have not served their apprenticeship and have no business calling themselves qualified coaches.
At Trisuttto.com we’re often asked about how we consistently produce the results we do. Being honest it’s hard not to give an arrogant answer. The truth is a lot of our coaching success is based on the fact that the majority of our coaching competition is just so terribly, terribly bad. Too many coaches taking too many silly courses like this.
As anyone who has ever searched for an online triathlon coach or training plan will testify – the triathlon coaching market is already beyond saturation point with struggling pro or ex-athletes ‘taking on’ a few age groupers as an easy way to make some cash to support themselves while they race all around the world.
They are not coaches, nor do they possess any long term plans to develop into professional coaches. Instead, they put their athletes on the same programs they use (Hey! It works for me so should be fine for you too!). Problem is it DOESN’T work for them. That’s why they are taking on athletes in the first place because they can’t cut it as a full-time pro. No experience of the subtleties involved in coaching individuals with different physiques, mentalities and talent levels.
Ironman University’s latest initiative is going to make a bad triathlon coaching landscape even worse. 14 hours and $700 is contemptible and totally unfair to the age group athletes who will be tricked into thinking they are getting a qualified coach.
They should do the right thing and shut it down before someone gets hurt.
Team PIS members competing at Kona 2014. A support crew of 50 flew over to support their team. Photo by: Slowtwitch
I recently had the privilege of visiting Penrith, home to one of the great triathlon communities in the world.
Many are already familiar with Team PIS (Penrith Institute of Sport). I know this because even from Europe I’m asked about the ‘crazy, drinking Australians at Ironman’ and what they’re about. Attitudes towards the boys from Penrith tend to be disapproving, the charge being they don’t treat the sport with the seriousness and respect it deserves.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As the Ironman arm of the Panthers Triathlon Club (PTC), Team PIS represents a broader triathlon movement that does wonderful work for the health and fitness of their local community. It is the very best of what triathlon should be.
The PTC has over 540 registered athletes who pay a maximum $50 to be a member of the team. Juniors pay $20 and kids from 5-13 pay $10. Every summer the club holds regular handicap run and open water swim races within Penrith, while also hosting monthly triathlon and duathlon events for its members. Events are open to all ages and abilities.
The club were also instrumental in the formation of Australia’s Oldest Triathlon, The Nepean Triathlon, which started in 1982 as an 800m swim, 40k bike and 14km run. Last year it featured in the UK edition of Triathlon Plus as one of the ‘50 Races to Do Before You Die’.
This race developed into a community event that continues to thrive. It’s core values have not been compromised. They pay one of the highest prize purses in all of Australia for the pros and raised over $20,000 for local charities in 2014 alone. Last year after all race expenses were paid, they donated a further $13,000 to the Royal Fire Service to help in the relief efforts after bush-fires in the local area. The race is manned by volunteers and local entities who are paid by the race itself.
So do not be fooled by the silly costumes and banter on social media. Team PIS represents a non-serious side of one of the biggest and most community-focused triathlon teams in the sport.
Nor should one be deceived by their apparent indifference to performance. While their roster consists of ex-footy players who ‘eat fried food, don’t train in winter, and love a beer’ the team are the reigning Australian Ironman Club Champions. When they do train, they train hard. Tough sets are completed as badges of honour as when there’s bragging rights up for grabs they race each other like it’s war. The club’s motto is: “Train hard … race hard … party harder”
My friend and club patriarch, Greg Chapman, has done every Nepean triathlon. 31 years in a row. Bad knees, bad back, old age and now a knee replacement, yet there is still one thing all in Penrith know. If Greg’s got breath in him he will be on the start line each October.
Sean Brunt getting some PIS support.
I have been proud to receive Penrith hospitality from as far back as 1990. It started with their late great leader, Ched Towns, who encapsulated to me the spirit of the club. Having just learned about the Penrith race the night before, I rang him at 9pm from Queensland and asked ‘if we can get there, can my guys have a race?’ He said ‘give it a try and we’ll do our best’.
We arrived just late. As the competitors waited to start, the race was delayed by Ched, who was blind, and said to them: ‘Be patient. If these guys are willing to drive the 12 hours to race with us, we are going to give them a little time as they are one of us.’
It was a great race and I, like many others from around Australia since, have been welcomed to their triathlon community ever since as ‘one of us’!
The PTC to me represents more than just a local tri club. It represents hope. If our sport is to successfully resist the WTC vision of turning triathlon into an elitist hobby, out of reach financially for the majority of its grass roots participants, which values neither the event hosts or the professional ranks, it will take strong, principled and well organised community based triathlon clubs like the Panthers to do it.
I recently spent 10 days in Colombia coaching my elite squad and working with my age group athletes. The age groupers were able to enjoy a more relaxed schedule; speaking about triathlon, planning their season, going through the Trisutto.com approach to training and joining some sessions in the pool. I wish I had more time to do a couple of sessions with them, but it was a short trip with a tight schedule and included a road trip to Calima.
For my elite athletes; Juan Rubio and Brian Moya, it was more like a training camp. I say ‘like’ because Brian is recovering from a broken collarbone, which he injured two weeks ago in Peru.
I worked with Brian in his physiotherapy and we are working on building his fitness up on the turbo. He’ll be able to start doing aqua running soon and and maybe some single arm swimming depending on his recovery.
With the squad: Training with Juan and Mauricio. Rehab for Brian.
For Juan it was another story. He is healthy but for different reasons hasn’t had good results in his last couple of races. So we worked on his confidence through training and even though he had a National Cup on Sunday, we trained hard all week:
Tuesday morning a solid 25x400m on the track (leaving on 2 minutes), a swim at lunchtime and running again in the afternoon. Wednesday a 3-hour ride in the mountains followed by a 5km swim. Thursday he did a tempo set, 30x100m on 1:25 in a 50m pool. We finished the day with a ride in the afternoon.
We then travelled to Calima on Friday. Juan by plane and the coach doing it the hard way – 11 hours in the car! But he was able to take advantage of the early flight to do some light training, 20 minutes each discipline, before taking on the National Cup Triathlon. He did an excellent job finishing a close second (4-seconds back) and leading until 7km on the run.
Maybe you think this was not the ideal kind of race week preparation, but we’re looking for the big picture. You don’t have to be fresh and tuned up for every race, especially if you are coming into a big block of races. Maintaining the miles and the intensity during the block of non-target races is very important, as the next time you race fresh you will see the big improvements from having a solid foundation.
The squad racing over the past couple of weeks: 2nd for Juan at the National Cup, Alan 6th (Elite) and John 2nd at the Ciudad de Carmen duathlon. Can’t keep John off the podiums!
Back in Bogota, we worked on Juan’s swim technique and held meetings for all the federations and multidisciplinary groups that Colombia has for athletes. Informing them of Juan’s plans and explaining to them our training approach. Sometimes it can be frustrating as in Colombia we have the the talent and the training locations for our athletes to become strong at triathlon at the international level, but a lack of organisation at the sport’s grass roots holds us back from reaching our potential.
However, overall it was great trip and very nice to visit my athletes and family. A good chance to share stories with them and to see them race and train. The highlight for me was to return to that magic place, Calima. A lake surrounded by mountains where I’ve raced many times and shared good memories with my old friends.
Providing some motivation at the Simon Bolivar Aquatic Centre.
Many will have read with great shock and sadness of the awful accident involving triathletes Edith Niederfriniger and Linda Scattolin 10 days ago. The image of an overturned bus, the skid marks off the side of the road and mangled wreckage of two bicycles with aero-bars sent a collective shudder through the spines of the entire triathlon community.
Tragically, after hanging on so bravely, Linda recently passed away from her injuries. It is beyond sad. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her friends and family. We are truly sorry for your loss and hope it is of some small comfort that her accident occurred while doing something she truly loved. RIP Linda.
It is at this time we must rally around Edith, who has lost her best friend and partner, and is now faced with digging herself out of a hole the depths of which we cannot hope to comprehend.
I would like Edith to know that she has got the support of not only everyone at Trisutto.com, but the triathlon world at large.
I’ve watched Edith race and coached against her throughout her career. She is and always has been a formidable competitor. A 2x Ironman Champion, former Long Distance European Champion and Vice-World Champion. Yet the courage and tenacity she has showed while racing as a pro has always been matched by her graciousness in defeat or victory.
Bella Bayliss recalling Edith’s graciousness during their epic 2008 South African Ironman encounter.
The great camaraderie she embodied as an athlete along with an infectious enthusiasm for her sport has made her an inspirational coach to her growing Pro Train triathlon squad in Italy. I’m sure, should she want to, Edith will progress as an elite coach at the highest levels.
The strength of mind and character that she has long shown will see her overcome the greatest obstacle she now faces.
Though it will be far from her thoughts at present, the reality is that Edith, having had her world turned upside down in a split second, is now faced with ongoing medical costs and requires significant assistance.
In true triathlon grassroots style Linda and Edith’s local clubs have set up a fund-raising initiative with the goal being to raise 10,000 euros to help her out:
The translation reading:
We help Edith Niederfriniger and Linda Scattolin to support the expensive medical costs in South Africa where they were victims of a very bad crash in training!
Triathlonmania and Triathlon Cremona Stradivari join the Pavese Triathlon to raise money for our two unfortunate athletes.
WE HEAR OUR SUPPORT FOR TWO TRIATHLETES WITH A SMALL GESTURE THAT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. NEVER GIVE UP !!
We know she won’t.
I encourage everyone who can to make a small contribution to their campaign here:
(click on the ‘Dona anche tu’ button and then on ‘English’ to get to the English interface)
I have and I hope you will too. In addition, Trisutto.com will be offering a discounted rate on all training products with 20% of all money going towards their initiative until the goal is raised.
The coupon code for all products is: inspire&believe
Sentiments which Linda lived by and we share. I would encourage all our triathlon partners to consider making a similar arrangement. Through a simple mechanism we can help a wounded warrior of our sport.
We have seen people come back and rebuild their lives through triathlon after the most horrific of things. Loretta Harrop and Emma Snowsill serving as an enduring source of inspiration. Wishing you the best recovery Edith and we all hope to help you do Linda proud.
I would also like to thank Jodie Swallow for her great support to Edith and Linda over the past weeks. Jodie recently penned a very moving tribute to Linda on Witsup.com, which is a must read.
At Trisutto.com we take commentary on our sport very seriously. We would like to think that any level of triathlete can visit our website and find an informed, truthful opinion on all matters triathlon.
That being the case, one must point out that the well intentioned and very effective #50WomentoKona campaign is in danger of missing a once in a decade opportunity to genuinely improve the sport for female professional athletes.
I believe in and have long advocated for equal representation of pro men and women at the World Championships. It is inevitable. To argue against it is to be on the wrong side of common sense, fairness and history.
However, I don’t believe that the triathlon community’s (pro and age group who have so admirably come together over this issue) efforts are best spent on an initiative that will allow 15 non-competitive athletes to spend a fortune to be able to say ‘I went to Kona.’
In the long run an extra 15 women will make little difference to the broader discrimination you all face as professional athletes.
Instead, let’s look at how we can use the goodwill #50WomentoKona have generated towards achieving equal representation into overcoming a series of underlying equity issues that I believe are fuelling the discontent we see currently directed at @CEOIronman.
A New Approach
Either the professional athlete arm of the WTC or the many supporters of #50WomentoKona should seize the momentum of the debate to move the sport to the next level of professionalism, while at the same time ensuring they achieve their objective of equal numbers for female pros.
There are a number of ways we can go about this, with my preferred option outlined below:
Extend the WTC an olive branch by saying that we are prepared to give up slots in the name of equality.
Make the pro field an intensely competitive 30 men and 30 women.
Any professional athlete who qualifies for the World Championships is awarded a $3,000 qualification bonus, $1,000 towards travel expenses and three nights paid accommodation at Kona.
This would ensure equal representation between men and women pros. It would mean that professional athletes aren’t financially penalised for achieving the highest honour in their sport – qualifying for the Hawaii World Championships. It would mean a higher standard of races necessary to qualify for Kona. Finally, it would be a step forward in eliminating the farcical situation we have at present where the Women’s World Championship is affected by drafting rules that mean slow men cause penalties for the leading women.
The question, as always, turns to money. How would it be funded?
The WTC currently give back less than 1% through the professional prize pool and their commitment to making it more difficult for professional athletes to support themselves is well documented. I believe this policy is short-sighted and should be redressed for the long-term benefit of the sport. They should open their purse strings here.
Failing that however, I would propose taking the 40 slots saved under the above model (20 from men, 20 from women) and putting them up for auction to age group athletes who would then fund the project. A potential win-win-win scenario.
Achieving some form of financial security for our professional athletes, who are often only a bad race away from financial ruin, is the key to achieving genuine equality across genders in the sport of triathlon.
An opportunity for real leadership. Ironman CEO Andrew Messick.
One must also recognize that until recently WTC net revenues from entry fees have been close to 90% from males. Despite this and to their credit the WTC have been quick to adopt equal pay for equal work and have paid male and female athletes to equal depth. Of course the WTC should be encouraged to use the current groundswell of public opinion to take the final step in equal representation also.
But trying to beat them to death with the equality stick is not going to help the pros long term. A sustainable race framework that works in the interests of both parties [business and athletes] will.
Where did Rev 3 go? What just happened to Life Time?
After 15 year’s of fantastic service to pros they have moved on saying we just can’t work with this model any more. They are right and any pro who thinks that Life Time’s business is going to suffer as a result of this decision needs a rethink. It won’t.
So to all the supporters of #50WomentoKona, and I’m one of them, use this platform to transform your position in professional sport. Andrew Messik will grant the 50 slots. He will be relieved to do so.
What we don’t want is for him to agree, then for everyone to be happy for two weeks before realising that the genuine coming together of the tri community has been undersold on an initiative that longer term will not enhance pro women’s position in the sport.
My advice: Keep the passion. Build the momentum. Broaden your demands for real equality. It is a great opportunity for the both women and the WTC to show real leadership.
Alan Carrillo winning his first pro race – The Chetumal Blackout. (2km swim, 80km bike, 18km run)
Last weekend we had our first trip of the year as a full team: athletes and coaches on the same bus for a couple of days of racing with the best of the state of Quintana Roo, they call it the “Estatal”.
This Championship consists in trials of a 400 metres swim in the pool and a 1km run on the track. The junior athletes who are able to make the required times get to race the next day in the Duathlon for the 14-15 year-olds and an Aquathlon for 14-19 year-old age groups. The top 2-3 qualify to the “Olimpiada Nacional”, that is our National Games.
Coaches diary: Photos from a very enjoyable weekend.
The TriCozumel junior athletes qualified with 9 out of 10 possibles times. In the Duathlon, Noe Cervera, in his first ever duathlon competition was first in the 14-15 category. In the same category, Diego Hernandez was 9th and Julio Tinal 10th in the Aquathlon. Well done.
For our older athletes like Alan Carrillo and Cesar Lopez, there is no Duathlon or Aquathlon but a full triathlon that will take place be next weekend in Merida. It is the first time that Cesar has made the two qualification times and so we hope that he will join Alan on the podium next week.
Diego and Julio have also made the qualifying times, so the team will be travelling again next Friday!
To finish on an even higher note – this weekend Alan won his first pro race! The Chetumal Blackout 100km. A long distance triathlon, consisting of a 2km swim, 80km bike and an 18km run.
It demonstrates how consistency is the key to results. Well done to everyone and enjoy your prize money Alan!
State selection trials. Some great results and going for more in Merida next week!