Sunday I watched with amazement, a very large number of people head out on the swim, bike and run having put in a decent amount of training and more than likely changed their lifestyle to make the changes needed to make the most of the race.
Sadly, as became obvious later in the afternoon there were a large number of people who struggled as they went out on the bike for the 3rd loop, and even more who went out on the run, who had not.
There were lines yesterday from 5AM until I left at 11:15 for registration for next years race, and online entry "sold out" in about 12-minutes. When I was sat at the airport I got a phone call from a triathlete who'd just returned from her 2nd tour of duty in Iraq, and on her return she decided she wanted to qualify for IMH in 2013. Within 2-months of getting back she'd got her fitness to the point where she could place 7th in the highly competitive womens 35-39 age group at a 70.3 race. When she called me yesterday she was near to tears having dillegently filled in answer to all those mandatory questions on the active.com form, only to get race sold out at 15-mins past the hour.
For her and I dare say many hundreds of others, IM entry has become a barrier to entry to the sport. While each year the number of unqualified participants take to the course in search of personal affirmation from others that they are a great person, because they are doing an Ironman, many make the sacrifices, but increasingly its obvious many don't.
Isn't it about time that the WTC imposed a pre-qualification for an IM US event of 7.15-hours for a WTC branded 70.3 race? Realistically, if you can't go 7.15 for a 70.3, you are very unlikely to go under 16 for a 140.6 - The 17 hour cut-off mostly was to avoid people finishing tomorrow, and allow those how suffered an unfortunate event during the race a chance to finish, not as a opportunity to take a slot from someone who would make all the sacrifices of going the distance, making the changes, and finishing with a great time?
An alternative to qualification could be volunteered at 12-races, after all if 12-races is all it takes to get you an IMH place, surely 12-races as a volunteer should be enough to get you a race place at any other IM.
I'm not arguing for myself, I could have easily stood in line in Tempe.