Revised Race Schedule

The third race in a four race Sprint Triathlon series takes place this Sunday in Shelbyville, KY. I’ve raced the first two and planned on doing all four…however, a few weeks ago I noticed a wedding on my calendar for Saturday night. Not just any wedding, the nuptials of a good friend of mine, Matt. I’m in the wedding party – it’s going to get pretty wild…and I’m supposed to race the next morning?!?!? I’m not really sure how the evening will go, but I expect that I will have a few adult beverages and will be out very late – neither of which translates into being race-ready at 8am the next morning. At this point, I’d say I’m about 50/50 on whether I’m going to race. 
Although I don’t mention it often on here, I’m a huge sports fan – especially college sports. I follow two schools very fanatically, Purdue University and the University of Louisville. I grew up and still live in Louisville, attended both schools and have a degree from Purdue. For those of you that follow college basketball, you know that UofL has unexpectedly made it to the Elite 8. Meaning they are only two more wins from playing for the National Championship! They play their next game this Saturday night…yeah, the same night as the wedding. I’m thinking that if they win this game and make it to the Final Four, the wedding reception will turn into an even bigger party and I will have no choice but to sit out the Sunday morning race. If they lose, I’ll probably feel like getting out some frustration in the water and on the road. So we’ll see how things go…
An email last week brought an unexpected change to my 2012 race season. I had planned on making the June 17th triathlon in Washington D.C. my “A” race for the year. It was a race in it’s second year and was being put on by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), the same group that own the Ironman brand and do all Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races. I was really excited about being able to swim the Potomac River, and then ride and run by all of the national monuments. The family was going to come with me and we were going to stay a few days after the race to do some sightseeing. As you can probably guess from the tone, this race is no longer happening. Here’s the email that I received last Wednesday:

Hi Luke

The Washington DC Triathlon LLC regretfully announces the cancellation of the June 17 triathlon to be held in Washington DC .  The event, which is held on National Park Service property, was recently denied the required Park Service permit for the 2012 race.  We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Event organizers will work with you by transferring your registration on request to one of six races listed below or provide you a registration refund. Please note that race transfers and refunds are available only until March 28 when registration fees become non-refundable and non-transferrable.

We appreciate your understanding and hope to see you at an event soon.

Washington DC Triathlon Staff 

I understand not being able to get permits. What I DON’T understand is leading all of the registered racers to believe that everything was in order for the race. Nowhere on the race website did it mention that permits were still trying to be obtained. Nowhere did it warn out of town participants that there was a chance that the race would not be held. A full refund for the race was offered and granted (as far as I can tell), but the bigger issue for me is the hotel. I waited until a host hotel was named on the website, which was just about a month ago. At that time I did some searching and found the best deal I could for three nights in a downtown hotel – close enough to the race venue that my family could walk to meet me there. Needless to say, despite my efforts, this room was not cheap. Total for three nights was $826.00! The problem with using online services instead of booking directly through the hotel is that they are non-transferable and non-refundable. So while I saved a decent amount by booking this way, it ended up biting me in the end. So now I’m stuck with a hotel in D.C. and no race to do. 
WTC has been getting a bad wrap over the last few years for various decisions that a lot of triathletes seem to think are based strictly on business without keeping the customer (triathletes) in mind. They have continued to raise entry fees, cancelled several races with very short notice, bought up local races and turned them in to profit centers, offered early entry into races that are historically sold out for a $1000 fee, etc. 
I have defended WTC in many arguments; after all, they are a “for profit” business. I have no issues with capitalism and getting whatever price the market will bare for your product. What I do have a problem with is withholding information from customers. I’m in sales. I know that not telling a customer a piece of critical information is the same a lying; and when you are called out on it, there should be consequences. For WTC, there are no consequences for cancelling this Washington DC 5150 Series race. They refund the money or give you entry into another race and go on about their business. I’m the one the suffers. I now either have to forfeit over $800 that I had planned on using for a destination race or continue with the trip without racing. I was excited about doing a destination race this year – now that won’t happen. We can’t afford to shell out another $800 for a hotel room to race somewhere else. 
If it weren’t for all of my friends doing Ironman Louisville this year (a WTC race), I would probably withdraw my name from the volunteer list. I don’t want to come off as a hypocrite, as I know that I will someday do another Ironman race, but I am a very unhappy customer right now!

One Response to “Revised Race Schedule”

  1. Mike Hermanson March 24, 2012 at 1:02 PM #

    i think the problem with the 5150 series is that people are less willing to travel for an olympic distance race unless they are going there to try to win or have other reasons to go to the city (family, etc.).

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