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Superfrog, WTC, and boycotts?

yournotuniqueyournotunique Member, Rooster Endurance Member
In the Bahrain podcast @PreachSwanson argued that boycotting WTC, or an event, removes your voice from the discussion. In an instance like this, where WTC has raised the price of an iconic race that is perpetually filled from $170 to $500, I can't see purchasing a registration as anything other than an endorsement.

If I register, and complain, I'm saying that, while I don't like this price, I'm willing to pay it. Why would WTC listen to my critique of their rapes if I'm participating in them? Where is their motivation for change if they're still making a very healthy profit at the expense of the sport's long term prospects?

Anyway, this one is a little personal for me as this was really high on my list of races I wanted to do.
AaronWebsteyJames Langedrjocy
-I know it's wrong. Blame old AOL character limits. Illadelph |
«13

Comments

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    regular_markregular_mark Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Rooster Endurance Officers, POTM
    I honestly believe they don't want people to buy the entry for this race. They want to kill this race. This is a lose-lose situation.
    James LangeAaronWebstey
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    @Dark_Mark I disagree. I think they're testing the limits of what they can charge without doing it incrementally. They want to see whether they can move to $500/$1000 for certain "prestigious" races and still sell out.

    If this is successful, I would expect Arizona, Chattanooga, Placid, and one other NA 140.6 to be $1000.
    AaronWebsteyScheck48drjocy
    Resident Gear Guru
    Bike Crash Free Since August 4th, 2014
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    yournotuniqueyournotunique Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    @rrheisler @Dark_Mark thats exactly what I think they're doing. I think they're moving towards something like a tiered system of pricing; and I'd imagine the "pro" races would be the expensive ones. That would be win-win for WTC: either they still sell out and WTC can claim that as a reason for (minimally) increasing prize purses, or they fail to sell out and WTC can claim that pros are not a draw.
    AaronWebstey
    -I know it's wrong. Blame old AOL character limits. Illadelph |
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    Did y'all see this from the 70.3 facebook page?

    "Hello athletes! We wanted to help clarify the general entry fee for the new IRONMAN 70.3 SUPERFROG on Sept. 27.

    In continuation of military support, $200 of each general entry is tax-deductible for each athlete and will go to the Navy SEAL Foundation, the Optimists Club of Coronado and the Islander Sports Foundation through the IRONMAN Foundation."


    I'm pretty sure they will get this to sell out because of the world military kona qualifier. I really wanted to do this race if I ever got stationed on the west coast. Probably not going to happen now.
    Nathan Kiser
    Just FYI, you... are also less than mediocre. -TheActualPaulo
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    @nathankiser don't know if you've seen the en masse Twitter dialogue on this bad boy (God, I can only imagine how @TheRealStarky or @Dark_Mark feels), but we've been commenting on this back and forth.

    Regardless of the donation amount (which, for the record, I think is them backtracking on the initial announcement big time), I still believe this is a market-pricing test for 70.3s. They're trying to figure out what the upper limit for a popular race is. By putting the "donation" cloth on it, they'll get a few people who were on the fence with it to wind up paying.

    I think @zachboring said it well on Twitter: why $200? Why not something like $50? Because then it wouldn't really paint an accurate picture on what the upper price someone finds palatable for a 70.3 entry would be.

    I think they fucked up in the announcement of the event, then are now trying to explain it away. Had they put the $200 donation bit out there first, there'd be a whole lot less uproar right now.
    AaronWebsteydrjocy
    Resident Gear Guru
    Bike Crash Free Since August 4th, 2014
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    regular_markregular_mark Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Rooster Endurance Officers, POTM
    edited January 2015
    rrheisler said:


    I think they fucked up in the announcement of the event, then are now trying to explain it away. Had they put the $200 donation bit out there first, there'd be a whole lot less uproar right now.

    Their intentions to test the market would be just as transparent though.
    Ryan HeislerAaronWebstey
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    Right. But they would have a whole lot less shitstorm on social media to deal with. You know it's bad when Beginner Triathlete has a thread bitching about the price increase.
    Resident Gear Guru
    Bike Crash Free Since August 4th, 2014
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    Either way, 200 bucks for a "donation" is absurd. That's almost the price of another wtc event on early registration. It's a total back track in my mind and a test to see if it will sell out. They are creating false demand by driving the price up.

    My question is why this race? Why not something that perenially sells out like a vineman or similar. It feels lime They are just using the race as a pawn to test the waters. Just crazy.

    I have never been a wtc hater as I get business is business. But recent moves have left me just scratching my head. I for one am looking for other options and not signin up for more wtc events than I already have scheduled. Just don't want to play that game anymore. I'm out to have fun and challenge myself. Not pay rediculous amounts for a congested FOUR LOOP bike course. The newee races are getting farther away from what I deem "fun". There has been a big turn in strategy and it's all about eking out the dollar before the big wigs move on. Within 5 years providence will sell.
    James LangeAaronWebstey
    Zach Boring, Overly Average Looking Man
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    No doubt 200 is crazy...also if it is a donation, shouldn't there be a opprotunity to register without donating like they do with the other foundation spots?
    HMkrplunkitAaronWebstey
    Nathan Kiser
    Just FYI, you... are also less than mediocre. -TheActualPaulo
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    yournotuniqueyournotunique Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    @zachboring I'll dispute that "business is business". There are plenty of companies, both large and small (Patagonia on one end, and I'll use mine on the small end) that don't put maximizing profits for short term gain ahead of a sustainable model that benefits both the industry one is in, the community one is a part of, and the customers/clients who support them.

    Challenge is a great example of this is triathlon (at least so far). They're showing that you can have top notch races in good locations for, I won't necessarily say reasonable, but lets go with *more* reasonable prices. Plus they show that they aren't trying to crush any and all competition.
    HeatherLowAaronWebstey
    -I know it's wrong. Blame old AOL character limits. Illadelph |
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    @nathankiser I have no doubt in my mind that the donation part is merely there to test the waters of a $500 entry, which is why it is required. But I would also find it very hard to believe that cash won't get where it's supposed to go. They know people are watching the Foundation very closely.
    James LangeAaronWebstey
    Resident Gear Guru
    Bike Crash Free Since August 4th, 2014
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    I agree with your point about business. When this all started (around the time of IM penticton change) I didn't fault them too much. Not I can't take that view. It's just absurd the lengths they go to in order to crush any competitors.

    They act like the kid that was bullied as a child that now has power and wants to show everyone how big they are. It's just sad more than anything.
    AaronWebstey
    Zach Boring, Overly Average Looking Man
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    @yournotunique with a $50,000 prize purse, at an average transaction cost of $240 entry, it requires approximately 740 registrants in order to break even for a 70.3 distance race in locales that are a one-day drive for your logistical crew with an event staff of approximately 30 members and around 500 volunteers. Most of that cost is sunk in water safety and required emergency personnel.
    AaronWebstey
    Resident Gear Guru
    Bike Crash Free Since August 4th, 2014
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    yournotuniqueyournotunique Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    @rrheisler So considering WTC doesn't offer a prize purse anything close to that, and they pull in 3x that many registrants, that just furthers my point.
    AaronWebstey
    -I know it's wrong. Blame old AOL character limits. Illadelph |
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    PreachSwansonPreachSwanson Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Rooster Endurance Officers
    Wow, go for a swim and an amazing thread appears.

    @yournotunique I do get the frustration you feel. I spoke of leaving the table from a place of experience with my denomination and a proposal for force change on Caterpillar Inc. by divesting. When you leave the table you loose your voice to effect change... No matter that the CEO went to my church I knew that if we as a body divested we would only loose voice. By helping keep us connected we got to keep our voice, get better understanding of the nature of the things that people in the church didn't like and brought some changes.

    With Ironman as a brand, we can be pissed off that they seem to be forcing people from the table. But we have to have some way of proving that we are worth listening to in order for them to be willing to hear us. Individual divestment will only ever be replaced by those with the means and desire to do so and there almost alway are those who are willing.

    To create change in this kind of environment is going to take some serious thought and planning. It will cost something more than entry fees. It will hurt because what they are doing hurts our sport and folks like you and me with little extra in our budgets.
    _MurManAaronWebsteykevinschummerScheck48
    TRS Racing
    I'm an angel with an incredible capacity for beer
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    Lol at WTC taking steps to create a smaller PR shit storm. L-oh-fucking-l
    AaronWebsteyRyan Heisler
    HMKP
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    kevinschummerkevinschummer Member
    edited January 2015
    I'm pretty cynical at all times about all things. To me, it's a test by WTC to see what levels of profits they can create as others already stated. Remember: WTC isn't your local RD who's interested in putting on well-attended and solidly organized events. I don't think that enters WTC mind when they organize a race (4 loops is just stupid). Still, I guarantee people will keep paying it, despite the threefold increase (if I understood correctly). The donation is now more than the previous price??

    And we can sit here and complain on our own private message board, or do something larger that gets noticed and, hopefully, support from the larger triathlon community. Because allowing WTC to keep fucking us as a group ain't gonna change anything.

    Also: @yournotunique: I know it's wrong. You know that I know it's wrong. I know that you know that I know it's wrong. But you used 'your' incorrectly.
    AaronWebstey
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    AaronWebsteyAaronWebstey Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member, Rooster Endurance Officers
    I think what @kevinschummer is saying is that we need to attract more users to the forum.
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    AaronWebsteyAaronWebstey Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member, Rooster Endurance Officers
    Plus @PreachSwanson as usual, I agree with you. "we have to have some way of proving that we are worth listening to in order for them to be willing to hear us." Just perfect.
    Ryan Heisler
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    I think what @kevinschummer is saying is that we need to attract more users to the forum.

    That's certainly part of it. Another part of it is finding/using a larger voice. If that's Ben's podcast, perfect. If it's newsletters with original content, great. If it's recruiting people to the team, nice. If it's pros speaking out knowing they have reinforcements from the AGers, cool. At this point, WTC knows there are people unhappy with its actions, but it just doesn't care.

    I agree with @AaronWebstey; that quote from @PreachSwanson is a beauty. And dead-on-balls correct.

    AaronWebstey
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    _MurMan_MurMan Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    We could all just wear "stop WTC" shirts in protest. much like they did to Prefontaine back in the day!

    Ive also heard holding up traffic going into Major cities gets people on your side and makes your protest vailid! oh wait.. not people don't like that...
    Sean Murnane - East Coast Hooligan
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    yournotuniqueyournotunique Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    I would argue that, in situation at least, we don't lose our voice by boycotting WTC. I think the very fact that Challenge is growing, both financially and reputationaly, shows that our voice is being heard. In triathlon, as age groupers, your voice is your wallet. We're taking our money and going home, we're spending it on a different product whose mission and practices we support. That shows we are worth listening to.

    If WTC had shown any inkling of legitimately listening to what AGers had to say (regarding fees, pros, women, etc), sure, maybe I could be convinced that it made sense to not completely boycott them. But they haven't. This is a bit different from your Caterpillar example in that you were shareholders. You were literally part owners of that company. You had a vested interest in Caterpillar, specifically, making changes, not the industrial vehicle industry.

    The argument that we have isn't for the betterment of WTC, it's for the sport of triathlon. WTC just happens to be the gorilla that's beating it up.
    HeatherLow
    -I know it's wrong. Blame old AOL character limits. Illadelph |
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    James LangeJames Lange Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    I'm a capitalist and I believe that everything is worth exactly what someone will pay for it. If someone will pay $500 or $1000 for a race then it is the right price. Of course, if you loose so many customers than you make less money you aren't much of a capitalist. However, the jump from $170 to $500 means that Frogman can afford to loose 66% of its athletes and still bring in the same revenue. Let's say WTC did an analysis and found that a 300% increase in cost would result in a 50% decrease in registrations. This would still represent a 50% increase in revenue, and assuming that races with smaller fields are cheaper to put on, a decrease in costs as well.

    Long term this is a terrible strategy because most of the 50% that you loose are the beginners and young triathletes. Both groups that might be pushed away from your brand, or even the sport. Over time your looking at a decrease in registrations until the race is no longer profitable.

    I was trying to think why WTC would want to kill a race off. Assuming that OPEX is their biggest variable expense, and their OPEX is directly tied to how many races they put on, decreasing the number of races is the easiest ways to decrease their OPEX. Short term, consolidating the race schedule into a smaller number of races with fewer racers paying significantly higher registrations will decrease their OPEX and increase their revenues and put them in a good position to be sold by Providence (as @zachboring noted). Long term it is terrible for the sport, and for WTC.


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    yournotuniqueyournotunique Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    @kevinschummer Oh, and this is a handle left over from AOL days when there was a character limit on AIM handles. It was either this or "urnotunique". And I fucking hate "ur".
    -I know it's wrong. Blame old AOL character limits. Illadelph |
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    yournotuniqueyournotunique Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    @james_lange That's my (our?) point: that the pursuit of short term profits are negatively affecting the whole of the sport. I could make the same argument for the current inclination of the stock market, as well, when solidly profitable companies are essentially penalized for not growing as quickly as investors want. So companies are forced to try and expand either too rapidly or in to fields they're shouldn't be involved. Which winds up the company and, if they're large enough, the industry.
    kevinschummer
    -I know it's wrong. Blame old AOL character limits. Illadelph |
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    Well, @james_lange I don't know that anybody is making a capitalist v. anything statement here. I completely agree with you. The correct retail price of anything is the public's willingness to pay that price.

    WTC is a smart corp that made a calculated decision that people will pay this price with 1 of 2 consequences: they see a massive decrease in registrations for the race and revenues are flat or the race is just as popular and revenues skyrocket. My issue really is that WTC is, for better or worse, the vanguard of triathlon. Its stewardship is proving to be pretty shitty.

    And @yournotunique: it was just a bad joke I've been wanting to make for awhile...I giggled, which is all that matters. I agree that WTC has shown they don't care what The AGers have to say. And with that whole attempt at controlling pros tweets or whatever (and BTW, what happened with that?), it doesn't much care what they have to say either. Supporting another brand loudly seems a decent way to start. There is more that can be done.
    yournotunique
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    Gotta love receiving those emails updating you on these great "new" races WTC has added. Yesterday, the announcement came that two independent races, Big Kahuna 1/2 and Superfrog (Coronado/SanDiego, CA), were going to become full-blown WTC events. Yay!

    Aside from now being "Ironman" events, these events (from what has been released) will not change. That is, the courses will remain exactly the same, but you now get that great M-dot swag we all love. Thanks for the sweet bike tool, Andy!

    While the Big Kahuna price increase sounds reasonable (~$40 increase), Superfrog went from $180-250 (depending on when you registered) to $500! WTC has claimed that a portion ($200) will go to Navy Seal Foundations and some local foundations as well that put on the event in the past. However, that $200 will first go through, wait for it, the Ironman Foundation. We all know how reputable of a foundation that is and how hard they will work to ensure that your $200 actually makes it to the named foundations...

    The fact that Superfrog is now a $500 70.3 is incredible. This race never seems to sell out as the course is repetitive and the conditions tend to be very windy. The course is also not very impressive, aside from the proximity to the coast - the swim is two loops (with two entry/exits from the water), the bike is 4 loops up and down the strand, and the run is two loops up and down the strand. While the strand is a great place to train (protected bike/run paths, great for bricks), the thought of paying $500 to do 6 loops on the same course, essentially, is incredible.

    Rant over.



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    Shit - didn't see the other discussion...
    Theo
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    Another thing people might not have realized is that 3 of the 6 WTC HIM races in California are all on consecutive weekends at the end of the season meaning for triathletes they only really get to add 1 WTC race to their calendar. The other 2 are well spaced, with Oceanside in March and Vineman in July, so that you can do both and then some other races.
    SC70.3 - Sept 13
    Tahoe70.3 - Sept 20
    SF70.3 - Sept 27
    Silverman70.3 - Oct 4

    This is something that Zibi (Challenge CEO) had mentioned on his TRS interview, which is that while they could schedule races to conflict with WTC ones to steal racers, they prefer to spread them out so that it increases the opportunities for people to race/participate throughout the year and overall grows the sport. Obviously WTC does not adhere to that philosophy.
    yournotuniqueScheck48
    seems like kind of an asshole =)
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    Fail. I was thinking of racing it this year for the first time, now I'm happy they ended it before it started for me. At least my wife and kid will be happier for it!
    danimal
    Reformed Canadian

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