Gold Coast, ITU World Champs 2018. What is the future of Age Group ITU World Champs racing?
It now has been 4 years since my first article on Singapore Age Group Teams at World Champs (Read that here) and with delight it is great to see that Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) have a fully fledged ITU selection policy in place - check that out here
Within our Tri Edge Team, the ITU World Championships did not even come up on the radair of events to pursue for the year. This was surprising as this years Worlds is just a hop-skip and jump over in Gold Coast, Australia, no trekking around the world. Simply and easy get away. So is ITU simply not attractive or do athletes prefer the other events and selection models available in the market?
Specifically the Triathlon market is making its own momentum and Ironman and 70.3 events seem to have the current pulling gravity that athletes are looking for. These events understood many years back the power of achievement as a aspirational driver similar to the ITU, however, by removing the power of the ITU’s ridged selection structure where athletes must race defined national selection races before being eligible for selection by the national federation (in Singapore's case TAS), Ironman stripped down the process and streamlined it into new a ‘slot’ based system, race to race.
This structure has several other powerful effects:
- Athletes can CHOOSE which events all around the world they want to race
- Ironman and Challenge can structure ‘slots’ and create additional demand for key events or new events by attracting those who want to go
- Creating an artificial window post race, whereby, athletes who get a slot or meet the roll-down need to agree immediately! Guaranteeing the premier event of the year is a SELL OUT. This is great for Ironman as a business as it confirms; locked in eyeballs and ability to leverage sponsors and media rights.
So the question is - is ITU asleep at the wheel? Or, is the business model fundamentally dated, floored and coming to a slow demise?
Time will tell. Leave us your opinions below.