Posted on November 19, 2015. Filed under: 50womentokona, Ranty McRantface, Uncategorized |

Apparently it’s International Men’s Day. I have no idea why we need International Men’s Day. Perhaps, to celebrate our privilege? To rejoice in our ability to pee standing up? A protest against the shewees that threaten to neutralise our peeing super power? Who knows? Who cares?

Anyway, let me digress.

Two of the questions I was most frequently asked after my “When is an ironman an Ironman?” rant post were these:

“Why would you get a brand tattooed on your skin?  What if the brand became associated with something really evil?”

Good questions.  (Not really but lets play along and pretend they are).

Well my answer is simple. Other people may think that I have a brand inked on my skin, but I don’t. I have a reminder of a day in August where I fought every instinct to quit and did something that I never thought was possible. I don’t have a brand on my skin (others can conclude that I do but that, quite frankly, is their business and I care not one shit what they think) I have a momento. A reminder of what I can achieve. Just like the stunted toe nails that I have from my first marathon and the sunburn scars that I have from when I escaped from Alcatraz.

The second part of the question is far more interesting though.  What if Ironman became associated with something truly heinous?

Again, there are two parts for me. Ironman for me, as I explained in the previous post, is not a traditional brand. It is a spirit that is bigger than mere business.  The current custodian of that spirit is the Dalian Wanda Group who own the World Triathlon Corporation. The previous custodians were Providence Equity Group and then some of the originals who were involved back at the start in Hawaii – Valerie Silk and the very first race director and finisher Commander John Collins. There will be many more custodians of the brand in the future – some will be good and some will be arseholes.  However, don’t confuse Ironman, the event, the attitude and the spirit with the business.

To avoid confusion and to address the question slightly indirectly – I cant’t see Ironman becoming involved with something despicable but it doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to see WTC doing something really dickish.  And the reason I say that is because they already are.

The World Triathlon Corporation is run by a bunch of privileged white males who, it would appear, consider themselves to be like Tom Wolfe’s Masters of the Universe.  Old fashioned, patronising misogynists.

Let me explain.

The Ironman World Championships are held at Kona every year. There are 50 slots for male pros at the championships and 35 for women.  “Eh?”, I hear you say.

Yup.  WTC could solve this with a wave of the hand.  But no.  Instead the CEO, Andrew Messick, who I imagine struts around WTC Towers clad only in red speedos and Hawaiin Tropic like a bombastic Colonel Kilgore got the WTC spreadsheet monkey to fire up excel.

Now fair and equal seem fairly simple terms to understand but if you are a misogynistic dinosaur you call on the spreadsheet guy to come up with a formula. In a real company they’d probably have an algorithm but the numbers guys skipped class that day to do push ups.

“I know”, says spreadsheet guy, “if we apply the percentage that females take up in the general population of Ironman starters then 35 pro slots for women is fair”.

WTC spreadsheet guy drops the mic to spontaneous applause.

If he was in charge of the civil rights legislation you can imagine his algorithmic machinations – 50 seater bus, one Rosa Parks whining about getting on the bus…..input numbers, calculate, disengage brain…..2% of seats on the bus should be available for black women.  Halfwitted WTC logic.

No. That is not fair. That is a mealy mouthed equation that does nothing for anyone save to make WTC look dumber than they ever aspired.


Fair is equal numbers of men and women. That is just decent. We want companies to be decent right?

But also, if WTC hope to grow the number of women in the sport and I hope they do, then they also need to realise that fair allocation of slots helps that too. Strong pro female role models will breed participation. For the hard of thinking at HQ I have included a simple diagram.

Sure, you could discount the slots isssue as one faux pas. Albeit a pretty significant one. But it’s a pattern of behaviour.

If you, like me, sit down every year to watch the Ironman World Championships then you will have experienced the excruciating commentary. That is, of course, until you have extracted all the unintended hilarity from it and hit the mute button.  These dull old white guys make Statler and Waldorf seem engaging.  And respectful.

Their commentary is of the men’s race and the girl’s race.  The first man out the water and the first girl out the water.  Well, chaps, either call them boys and girls or men and women. Don’t be consistently patronising. “Pink it and shrink it” may be the attitude of most suppliers to the triathlon business but we can expect better from the governing body.  Much better.

Hell, “girls” like Leanda Cave got back on the bike after a brutal bike crash and chased back to the lead while a “hardman” like Chef Ramsay hit the showers after one hot shart. HTFU Gordy, it ain’t Ironman if you ain’t shit yourself. And don’t take up a place at the world championships without qualifying unless you are prepared to drag your broken, shitting, puking body 140.6 miles.

Should there be Ironman and Ironwomen? Personally, I don’t think so – it’s a unisex status like President or Prime Minister.  140.6 miles of hard graft gives not one shit whether you are a man or a women. But it should be fair.

So, there you go, I’ve managed to make International Men’s Day all about women.  It’s not normally the kind of thing I’d write about but it just seemed the right thing to do.

Always remember – Anything Is, ahem, Possible.






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4 Responses to “Ironquality”

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Love it 🙂


Well said that *man*. Hope you’re having a nice day :O)


Well phrased!


Very well said.


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