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
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