The triathlon landscape has changed a ton since I started in 2006. Back then the Midwest Multisport Series was the hot ticket here in Minnesota. All the best athletes raced those ten events and most of them sold out. Now the series is disbanded. Some of the events are gone altogether, some have lost a bit of luster, some are on life-support, and a few are going strong. Now, there is no series that makes it easy for all the fastest to go head to head. Fun fact: Brian Bich from Duluth was the man when I started. He won all the competitive races in the state.
For the first few years the sport itself was expanding. In 2006 I had limited race choices. Within a few seasons there were multiple races every weekend through the summer. It the boom years many local races were willing to put up a cash purse to draw a strong field. When I started racing pro in 2010 I got paid at five local races. It seems the sport has stabilized since then and now races are fighting for entrants. Many races don’t make it. Many races can’t afford the luxury of paying a prize purse any more. I think that is a major bummer but it’s just the reality of the situation. Also in this timeframe many more midwestern guys have gone pro and will drive to any race that pays. So while money has either been cut or halved there are more guys fighting for it. I’ve raced pro fields of half a dozen or more guys at random local sprints.
The money element has always confused my decision making process. Often I’d go do some race I had no interest in doing just for a chance at a check. That’s part of the job but I always felt really lousy if I then had a poor performance and came away with nothing. If I had been more consistent overall this wouldn’t really be an issue. I often felt I was tripping over myself by adding these races and then racing poorly.
Long story short, it is much harder to make any cash as a local pro. Getting paid at an actual pro race has gotten harder too. The sport moves forward in general so people are getting faster and fields are getting deeper. Pro races have seen major changes since 2010. The 5150 series of non-draft Olympics has come and gone. The amazing Hy Vee race with a million dollar prize purse has come and gone. The Lifetime Series has changed frequently and the prize purses have been whittled down progressively. The awesome Leadman races lost their pro purse. The Rev3 series started strong then wavered, disappeared, and is now coming back under the Challenge banner. Freestanding pro races seem to have all but disappeared. Ironman is obviously still the main game in town but they have just made major changes to their pro series. It seems no one quite knows what to do with pros. Several big changes have just happened for the 2015 season. Lots of folks who were making a bit of money here and there won’t be making any money going forward. I have no idea what guys who race non-draft olympic are going to do.
As I’ve said before I need to get my own game back together. Given the general state of the pro scene it will be much easier to focus on my own performance in the amateur ranks. The added element of chasing checks has only distracted me as an athlete and led me to many a questionable choice. I’m relieved to pick out a race season based around events I can enjoy.
Unrelated, as you may be aware I’ve declared myself Senior Executive Vice President of Arbitrary Coffee Distribution, Short Term Coffee Sponsorship Coordinator and Director of Digital Marketing Endorsements for Peace Coffee. This is an important role and I take it very seriously. I am proud to announce I’ve brought my online only friend Karin “KDawg” to the Peace Coffee team. I’ve bequeathed her the title West Coast Director of Arbitrary Distribution Operations for Peace Coffee. Is this job as important as the title is long? Absolutely. Definitely. One hundred percent yes. Karin will be in charge of helping the great state of California stay awake by administering coffee sponsorships at her discretion. Please follow her on twitter and congratulate her for this new position @WattsUpKarin.