The Law of Unintended Consequences

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you must be aware of the new WTC 8% rule!

I joke. Of course, if you’re not a follower of professional triathlon, you’re probably not aware that the World Triathlon Corporation (owner of the Ironman trademark and series of races) has enacted a new set of rules for professionals, one of which states that in order to win prize money, you have to finish within 8% of the winner’s time. The result? Two Ironman races where the female winner waited at the finish before crossing the line.

Professional triathlon is a tight-knit community, I expect more of this to come.

Update: I forgot to include this commentary by Chrissy Wellington, a name you should know if you don’t know any other in the Triathlon community. She is the three-peat winner of the Kona Ironman, and has won every single iron-distance triathlon she has entered, save one (I think). The most dominant female on the scene, she is redefining the sport like Jordan, and Woods did theirs.

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4 Responses to The Law of Unintended Consequences

  1. James Cronen says:

    Wow that’s a stupid rule. Good for the winners to wait at the line.

  2. Annie says:

    The first link commented that it was the female athletes looking out for each other. Are the male athletes not looking out for each other, or are they just finishing close enough together for it not to be an issue?

    I ask because I wonder if it’s more of a gender mindset issue with women, generally, being more cooperative & men, generally, being more competitive.

  3. Bill Ruhsam says:


    I went and checked: there’s no blatant time discrepancy between the men and the women at that race. The winner’s 5 minute lag gave one more woman her slot in the 8% group, but it was the difference (I may be misremembering this) between 7 and 6 people in the money, men and women. So, sounds more like of a gender mindset from this dataset of n=1.

    I imagine this will be coming up again and again. I’ll keep you informed.

    BTW, for those of you who don’t pore over the WTC rules books, the former rule for finishing in the prize purse was to finish within 10% of the second place winner.

  4. Jenn says:

    I’ll be quite interested to see how Chrissy Wellington reacts when she runs a race. Given her often huge wins:

    -Roth, Germany July 10th an inronman-distance race: 31 minute win
    -2007 Ironman Korea: -Won by 50 minutes
    -The long-distance Alpe d’Huez in 2008: won by 25 minutes (and only 1:23 behind the fastest man!)
    -2008 Timberman 70.3 triathlon: won by 18 minutes
    -2008 Ironman World Championship: Won by 15 because she lost 10 minutes due to a flat tire (and was saved by another female athlete)
    -2009 Ironman World Championship: Won by a few seconds shy of 20 minutes

    (Now some races she did only win by 5 minutes, but those are less of an issue and seemingly less common)

    It seems like this rule will have huge impacts. She can either stop making world records and actually competing with male athletes to let the women get prize money, or just continue to blow the women out of the water and probably piss them off because they no longer are getting prize money.

    I want to see her keep breaking records and kicking ass. Honesty, I’d like to see her actually win overall and I think she has a chance, but not if she lets this rule slow her down. I also want more women to become professional triathletes and I can see how this rule and Chrissie‚Äôs dominance may make them second think such ambitions.

    We should just let them race. Pay the winners and let the winners win.

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