According to one of Everymantri’s blogger, Ryan Falkenrath, Ironman is becoming devalued as a challenge event as it’s too easy to finish. The 17 hour cut off time means that almost anyone can complete an Ironman distance triathlon. He cites the example of a competitor completing the bike section on a BMX bike just to make it harder.
This is elitist nonsense. It’s quite easy for some uber athlete to demean the efforts of others by deliberately making an event artificially tougher for themselves, but what does that prove beyond the fact that self-publicity and ego go hand in hand?
It is certainly true that the 17 hour cut off at most Ironmn events allows the vast majority of the field complete the course, but again does that prove that the event is too easy? Alternatively, it might prove that the field at an Ironman event are a uniquely determined and hyper-motivated bunch of individuals who have taken the event seriously.
A while ago I wrote a blog post entitled “Could you do an Ironman?“, and my answer to my own question was, “Almost certainly.” I then set out some of the challenges, real or imaginary, along the path. It would be incredibly easy to substitute the word “Ironman” with marathon, half marathon, or any other challenge you might care to attempt. The point is that challenge is relative. I’m not going to run down a person for whom completing a 5km run might be a major achievement just because I might think that kind of distance was a warm-up run. The simple fact is that Ironman is a serious undertaking and the cut-off times at the end of the bike, in particular, will find out those who aren’t physically prepared.
There is an argument to be had that the 17 hour cut off does allow someone to complete the bike section in a reasonable time and then walk the entire marathon, but covering 140 miles under your own power is still a daunting proposition.
So, for the likes of Glen Jusczyk (the Ironman BMXer), I have a suggestion for you: if you think Ironman is too easy, fine, go and do an event that challenges you, just don’t denigrate those of us for whom completing an Ironman is a moment for celebration and pride.