By Paul Peavy
My blog is intended to share some personal experiences as an athlete and a fan, and this one is not such good news. Due to finances, my wife and I chose not to compete in the inaugural New York City Ironman U. S. Championship on Aug. 11.
So what’s the teachable moment in this for event organizers? To me the point is that this economy may eventually catch up to some of your participants.
For my wife and me, it was a confluence of circumstances. What was originally an amazingly simple and cheap plan got out of hand. My wife’s brother lives in New York City and works for Delta. Simple enough, he could get us buddy passes to fly there and then we would stay with him.
In July, the bowling ball of costs started to head our way. The buddy passes did not work out. Bike transportation was going to cost us $800. (We are indeed lucky to be capable enough to compete in Ironman events together but the problem is that you have to double the costs of most expenses.)
Ironman organizers said transportation and shuttles would only be available from their host hotels. So, it began to feel like we would have to spend over $400 for a couple of nights in the host hotels to get to and from the site. Ironman charged $50 for friends and family to be allowed access to the complete Ironman course, including the start and finish areas. So, we had to buy our daughter a $50 wristband. The final straw was when our daughter’s swim coach added a swim meet in Fort Lauderdale, which is nine hours from our home.
We finally decided we just could not afford it all. Is any of this Ironman’s fault? Absolutely not. Ironman Inc. is a business. Much like you have to figure your budget and how to make money, break even, or give the most to your favorite cause, so do they. But here is a question to consider. With this economy, is there anything you could do to make your event affordable and inviting for your athletes and their families?
With more and more families being wholly involved in sports, you may have one parent taking one kid to a swim meet while the other takes another child to a softball tournament. You might have families making a choice about which event to attend. You might have mom or dad deciding they have to give up their own golf tournament to afford their kid’s event.
Sherrie and I still have Ironman Florida in November. It is in Panama City Beach, and we will put our bikes on our bike rack and drive over, and our daughter will compete in a nearby town the day before in her high school district swim meet. That is a weekend where we will get to enjoy it all. In fact you can follow our journey on my blog at www.ironmanrocks.blogspot.com.
As an event organizer, I urge you to seek out as many deep discounts and freebies as you can and be as accessible to your athletes to advise them of economically advantageous places to stay, eat, and play to keep your event thriving while the economy still struggles along.
Paul Peavy and his wife are multiple Ironman Triathlon finishers. They also compete in shorter distance triathlons and runs. Their daughter is a state championship level swimmer. Paul also loves to grab the microphone and be the “Crowd Pumper-Upper” at many different events. He gives us insight into events as an athlete, a parent, a volunteer, an MC, a spectator, and sometimes just a Sherpa for his very athletic wife and daughter.