Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Triathlons are not cheap... middle class problems

I remember back in the good old days when things didn't cost as much...

Yes, I'm keenly aware of everything that goes into producing a triathlon event.  Venue rental, equipments, consumables, timing, street closures, security with police and scuba... and a lot more, but its seems like triathlon pricing in Kansas City is sky rocketing.  Middle class problems... I know.


The limiter in the past used to be avoiding placing too much strain on the family racing events.  Now, it's not breaking the bank.  For triathletes, gear alone is a pretty penny.  Trust me, I know this after I just got my tri bike out of hawk after some repairs after Ironman Lake Tahoe.  I didn't wreck it, but for all that it needed done to be servaciable again, you would have thought so.

As 2013 comes to a close, the 3 major entities producing triathlons in the area are looking to secure racers for their triathlons with early bird discounts.  Maybe I'm not effectively recalling what prices have moved to, but early bird is now approaching what regular entry fee was just a few years ago.

Yes, inflation and everyone feeling the economic pinch has created an environment of higher prices, but at times I can't help but feel a little bit of grab-assing for my wallet and money more than what would amount to a generous profit for a race organizer.

Lets face it, they would not put these races on unless they were making money.  I don't think you would find an event like a triathlon being supported for fun by someone with deep pockets.  I get it.  But, everyone makes a big deal about how triathletes are affluent and have money.  You can't tell me race directors aren't paying attention to their market segment to reach supply=demand at the best price the market will bear.  (I paid attention in econ 101 - sort of) Some years may be slim margins, but you can bet during the good years a good business entity will get theirs.  Some triathletes may have more disposable income than they know what to do with, but you can race on a mandated budget and I do.  Problem is, race entry is now eating into what I would use to keep my bike in order and supply myself with swim speedos so people don't have to witness my rear end showing through a thread bare swim jammer.

For 2014, I think Em can exhale as I can only really race 3 to 4 races, one of which will be Ironman Chattanooga (which when you race an Ironman race, you know you will have to pay for the privilege, but I'm working with a charity partner that makes it more feasible).  The others will probably be Ironman 70.3 Kansas, one local shorter race and maybe a surprise event for www.Tri4ahandUp.com.

I can see raising prices for events with the production value of Ironman events, but they are not providing that experience.  It's a local triathlon.  Show up, rack your bike, race, get your time, go home.  It used to be about the fun of racing events testing my conditioning... now it's going to be about which event will give me the most for my money and can I afford it before early bird pricing is up.  I don't need a DJ.  I don't need a blow-up finish arch.  I don't need banners around the transition fence.  I don't need a stage for awards.  Mark the turns, keep traffic out of the road and have some sports drink at the aid stations.  Simplify and pass the savings on to your racers.

2014 will mark the first year I will end up racing more outside of the Kansas City area for triathlons.  Why pay high prices for local races when you can pay a little more for bigger races in new locations?  Budget your money and travel cheap, and it's not that much more these days.  Yes, I do know that prices for triathlons around the country at times far exceed anything we see here in the midwest, but you don't get mountains or beaches in Kansas or Missouri.  Branson ain't Boulder.  Lawrence isn't Lake Tahoe (and I LOVE Lawrence).  When the prices were more affordable, I could get 3 to 4 local races in that would equal the cost of traveling to a similar distance event around the midwest.  Now with the higher prices and somewhat improved experiences, it's made me expand my search for events outside the KC area.

It just kind of sucks.  I used to sign up early bird and have 5 to 6 races to ink on the calendar.  I've been priced out of the market.
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