Ironman Texas 2018 wound up being a race in its own category. Breaking the world record on the bike meant I should be at home celebrating this huge achievement, right? Instead, since Ironman’s decision to honor records broken created such a stir and so much negativity that I have spent the last few days digging through negative comments and trying to explain why I think this achievement should be recognized.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely see both sides of the situation. The bike course was short by 3km, there were no officials (I saw one in the first 40km, but never again after that), and videos showed massive draft packs that formed on the two loop bike course. But, why is it that as soon as someone has an outstanding performance, society automatically points fingers, saying that I cheated or don’t deserve the record. Is that what we have really come to? Are there so many dishonest people out there that plain old hard work is not recognized and overshadowed by negative buzz?
I race because I love the sport. I love my job and the reason I train so hard is to put my best, honest effort out there on race day and enjoy it. However, to be entirely honest, the fact that I have to convince people that it was hard work and perfect race day conditions that got me that record is disappointing and downright depressing. Where is the fun in this…? “Fun” has been buried under everything else.
Then there is the distance subject. The previous record for a full 180km bike course is owned by Caroline Steffan in a time of 4:35. I had come close to this in Arizona (4:38, and knew that with this course being even flatter that I could get close to that again. I was on track to do a 4:29-4:30, so was shocked when I came to T2 in 4:25 and 177km.
Originally Ironman stated (after the top finishers had come through) that no records would be honored due to the shortened course. Then two days later decided to reverse this decision. This created such a negative buzz, and once digging into records a little more, discovered that other courses have been short in the past with records attached to these races. I was not the only one affected by this as Starky set a blazing bike record, and Mel and Matt both set outstanding overall Ironman records.
Now on the flip side, I do understand why people are upset, especially those that set records in the past on courses whose distances were correct. I believe that those records should still stand and be recognized and perhaps have my achievement recognized as the fastest speed ever held in an Ironman. If you do the math at 40km/hr average I would have still completed the 180km 5 min faster than the previous record. However, it wasn’t 180km, so maybe it would be fair to asterisks my name, which I am completely fine with. In the end, this is Ironman’s decision, so I hope they make the right one.