Andrew Messick, the CEO of WTC, recently chatted with Bob Babbitt from Competitor Radio. The Messick/Babbit interview can be found here: http://competitorradio.competitor.com/2014/05/andrew-messick-3/.
Andrew made a few interesting statements regarding Kona and Kona qualification (starting about 23 minutes into the interview). His statements have re-started my thinking about the KPR, but I will need some more time to think through some of the implications. Here, I just wanted to record Andrew’s statements (both for me and others interested in this subject).
The following are all direct quotes by Andrew (all I added was to give some context if necessary).
Regarding the need for previous champions to validate by finishing a full Ironman
There’s two sides: One is „I’m gonna save my legs“. But then they show up and do this race in Germany in July [referring to Challenge Roth]. And so is it really saving your legs? We can’t help but notice that and it detracts pretty dramatically from the credibility of the argument that we’re doing it to save our legs. Roth’s a great race, there’s no doubt about it, and I don’t blame professional athletes for making a living however they want to. But then you need to use a different argument when you’re talking about validation. I can’t begrudge Mirinda for punching her Kona ticket in [Florida] last year. We have a set of rules, and there are always ways in which motivated people can get around the intent of the rule. Sometimes we tolerate it, and if we find it intolerable, we change the rules.
On potential changes to the KPR
We feel that a lot of the KPR elements are correct and accurate. Although, we probably will change – maybe substantially – how the KPR works in 2015. We haven’t made any decision yet, but we have listened to a lot of feedback around depth of payout and dilution of field. With the number of races that we’re adding on our global series, you could argue that it’s outstripping the magnitude of a quality professional athlete pool. And so one of the things we’re having a serious look at is whether we should have fewer races that have points and pro dollars, particularly in North America and have those prize purses be bigger, have points be higher and pay deeper.
The following statements were made in the context of 70.3s, but my understanding is that the number of races and St. George were just an example, and that they are also valid for full-distance races:
Instead of having 30 races [in North America], what if you had six that were like St. George. Bigger prize money, and you pay deeper, so there’s still a compelling earning opportunity for the Pros. And some of the Pros who aren’t necessarily top 5 athletes still get paid, they still get some points, they still have a chance to get to worlds. You could make a pretty compelling case that the caliber of racing and the interest would be better if you repurposed a lot of that prize money towards a smaller number of races and let the big boys duke it out.