Registration, Withdrawals and Start Lists

Last year I wrote a post on procedures around Pro registration for Ironman races. In it, I have made a few suggestions for improvements and wanted to check on the progress.

Suggestions from Last Year

Here is a quick overview of the changes I suggested:

  1. Information on how many athletes have already registered for a race
  2. Standard registration deadline of four weeks
  3. Easily available start lists after end of registration
  4. Stricter withdrawal process

Let’s have a closer look at what happened with each of these suggestions.

Registration Levels

I am not aware of any information that is made available to Pro athletes (or the triathlon press) that indicates how many athletes have registered for a race. If this information had been available, it might have helped to prevent the really small Pro fields (most notably IM Wales which only had two Pro women). From what I heard, some more athletes were interesting to start in Wales after the start list was published, but were declined as the registration deadline had already passed.

As I have suggested last year, I don’t think that putting out the information has to be complicated: A monthly email newsletter by Pro Services to the athletes could just note the current number of athletes registered for the races in the next months, and athletes could adjust their plans accordingly.

Registration Deadline

For most races, a registration deadline of three weeks was used (and in some cases, strictly enforced). I think that almost all Pro athletes are aware that they have to plan their races in time. Except for a few licensed races, I don’t really see this as an issue an more – a three week deadline seems to be standard and accepted.

Start Lists

Ironman has made big steps forward in making start lists available: They have a standard location on their website for Pro start lists (Results – Pro Athletes, then Event Registration – Pro Start Lists). A big thumbs up!

However, there are still some improvements that should be made for the 2015 season:

  • While it’s been working well for North American and Asia/Pacific races, it was hard to get timely and up-to-date information for European races.
  • The start list should be available within days after the registration deadline, but there were a lot of cases when it takes much longer.

Withdrawals

This is the area where more progress should to be made. Quite often, athletes that have announced on social media that they won’t be starting are still on the start list – apparently because Pro Registration has not been notified. It seems to me that the sanctions that Ironman has in place (basically starting at losing 500 KPR points) are not sufficient to ensure that all athletes that won’t start properly notify Pro Registration services.

Also, the information about withdrawals should be reflected in the published start lists. At this point, it is not apparent when start lists are updated and where the updates have occurred. I think two simple changes could help here:

  • On Ironman.com, note the date that the list was last changed in addition to the race name (so instead of „Ironman Lake Placid“ it should be „Ironman Lake Placid (updated June 10th)“)
  • In the list, cross out athletes that won’t start, and note late additions in a special way (e.g. color or by adding „LA“ at their bib).

Overall

I think that Ironman Pro Registration has put a lot of work into improving the information that is available. In addition, I’m thankful that Paula and Heather are alway very helpful and quick in answering my requests. (From what I heard, they are also great in answering questions from Pros and the triathlon press.) However, I think there is still room for improvement in the information that is publicly available, and I hope that this will also make their job a bit easier by reducing the number of requests they have to handle.

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