Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Asset Sales in Triathlon

WTC -- read, Ironman -- bought the Tri Columbia races.

This reportedly means that those events, including the Columbia Triathlon (Olympic), Eagleman (70.3), Chesapeakeman (140.6), and two "Irongirl" triathlons, will be held in 2014.  Details of the deal are not known (or perhaps even finalized?), so whether WTC finds it appropriate to run the entire series ad infinitum is up in the air.

My prediction:  WTC keeps the Columbia Triathlon as a marquee qualifier for its 5150 series championship.  The Columbia Triathlon earned that status for the first time in 2012 when the short-lived DC Triathlon folded.  Based on the level of competition at the Columbia Triathlon, it brought truly top athletes to the championship event in Iowa (Hyvee).

WTC obviously keeps the Eagleman, one of the most sought-after 70.3 races.  As an aside, I have not a clue why Eagleman was so desirable an event.  Although I've never run it, I have run the Chesapeakeman, which follows the same roads and swims in the same water.  It's pretty if you like stark, lonely landscapes.  Perhaps it was the time of year, perhaps it was the Kona slots that were available, but Eagleman has been a big hit.  WTC ownership will not change that in the slightest.

And WTC unloads everything else.  No way there will be a Ironman Cambridge, MD (Chesapeakeman) every September.  First, September is already overcrowded with Ironman races.  Second, the town is not large enough to support a four-day event with 2500 athletes and two spectators per athlete.  Third, Ironman racing is a destination sport.  Cambridge, Maryland, is a pleasant place to eat crab cakes and run a race, but it is not a destination.  Chesapeakeman's only hope is that members of the TriColumbia board want to form a new entity just to run the smaller events and have struck a deal with WTC to keep the race alive for long enough for that to happen.

Is this good?  Bad?  Indifferent?  Commenters on the Slowtwitch post (linked above) are generally maudlin regarding the loss of a non-profit entity putting on nice local races.  The problem is, as Ted signals in his comment to my prior post on this topic, the loss was inevitable:  a non-profit cannot realistically compete on the WTC scale.  Some commenters suggest other regional promoters were available (and interested) to pick up the races, but I'm a skeptic.  It takes a serious organization to run an event like the Columbia Triathlon.  Perhaps it could be scaled back to ~500-700 athletes, but that would be a very different race.  In contrast, WTC can run it at full throttle.

Finally, I doubt other promoters were available to pick up the entire series.  WTC may have offered to keep the smaller events afloat for long enough to see if they can be run on their own, in exchange for priority in purchasing the desirable events.  If the alternative was shutting down Chesapeakeman and Irongirl, perhaps this is the best of two unhappy options.

1 comment:

  1. My comment about non-profit governance was more a reference to loose governance practices than competitiveness, but point taken. As for the peculiar charm of Eagleman, it's entirely lost on me. That was one hot, no wetsuit, flat, boring and punishing day. Not only that, from what I understand it's always like that, if not hotter. . . Notwithstanding the above, it was well, if peevishly run, I had a great experience doing my first (and so far only) 70.3 there. With regard to peevish -- I had to put up with a 4 minute penalty for "overtaking" even though I gave the overtaker three lengths before I followed. I met a fair number of kindly midpackers who received penalties or DQd for obscure reasons. Not sure what that was about. Anyway, I'm in the market for a 70.3 this season, and it won't be Eagleman. I'm thinking Timber or Toughman if my darned heel injury would just resolve itself.