SIS­TERS ARE DO­ING IT FOR THEM­SELVES

Calls for an equal num­ber of pro­fes­sional men and women rac­ers at the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onships in Kona are reach­ing a crescendo

Triathlon Plus - - Up to Speed -

TRIEQUAL’S 50 Women to Kona (50Q) cam­paign has been boosted by the ap­point­ment of lead­ing triath­lete Rachel Joyce (also co­founder of TriEqual) to the Women For Tri (WFT) board of ad­vi­sors.

Now, Rachel hopes her po­si­tion on the WFT board may lead to a long-over­due change to the al­lo­ca­tion rules.

Iron­man cur­rently of­fers 50 slots for pro­fes­sional males at both Kona and the 70.3 World Cham­pi­onships, but only 35 for pro­fes­sional women. The World Triathlon Cor­po­ra­tion (WTC), be­hind both Iron­man and Women for Tri, in­sists the num­bers re­flect the male-to-fe­male ra­tio of ath­letes com­pet­ing in these dis­tances glob­ally.

But the 50Q cam­paign, launched last Fe­bru­ary, says the al­lo­ca­tion is dis­crim­i­na­tory and un­fair to women who have to work harder than male peers to gain a cov­eted slot, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for pro­fes­sional women to make a ca­reer out of triathlon. They say it has a trickle-down ef­fect on women of all ages and abil­i­ties.

“How can any­one, let alone a fe­male triath­lete, jus­tify to her daugh­ters, sis­ters and friends that Any­thing is Pos­si­ble when op­por­tu­ni­ties for women are less pos­si­ble than op­por­tu­ni­ties for men?” the WTF board was asked in an open let­ter last spring. The let­ter was signed by dozens of iconic names from the world of tri in­clud­ing Chrissie Welling­ton, Tim Don, Ni­cola Spirig, Le­anda Cave and Lucy Gos­sage.

Kona qual­i­fi­ca­tion is com­pli­cated says Rachel Joyce: “Pro­fes­sional triath­letes col­lect points from Iron­man races – a com­bi­na­tion of 70.3s and IM. The points are weighted to the re­gional cham­pi­onships so, for ex­am­ple, win­ning Iron­man Frank­furt will award more points than win­ning Iron­man Lan­zarote.”

The WTC in­creased the num­ber of slots for women to 35 for Kona 2013 but has made no fur­ther in­creases since.

Rachel says: “The WTC de­fends this in­equal­ity by re­fer­ring to weaker women’s fields, pro­por­tion­al­ity of num­ber of pros reg­is­tered, pro­por­tion­al­ity to ama­teurs par­tic­i­pat­ing, and there was even a mur­mur­ing from An­drew Mes­sick (the CEO of Iron­man) that he made this de­ci­sion with the pro-women’s best in­ter­est in mind, sug­gest­ing he didn’t want to risk hav­ing a weak women’s race.

“I think we women are quite ca­pa­ble of look­ing af­ter our own best in­ter­ests and in any case: have you seen the women’s race the last few years?

“My main fo­cus is on ini­tia­tives that get more women rac­ing triathlon of all dis­tances.

Hav­ing un­equal num­bers at the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onships, is con­tra to this move and I will see if I can use my po­si­tion on the board to in­flu­ence this in the fu­ture.

“Iron­man is fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle by re­sist­ing our calls for equal­ity. It will hap­pen sooner or later and we at TriEqual in­tend to make sure it hap­pens sooner.”

Rachel Joyce cam­paigns for Kona 50Q

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