Lone Male American at 70.3 Worlds

Credit Arnold Bjornsson

(Written by Brad Williams)  

I haven’t really talked much publicly about going to 70.3 Worlds. I had been wanting to put things down in writing as I assumed there would be a lot of questions. I hope this post helps explain the process, my reasoning, the positives, the negatives, and why in the world I am the only American going. Also, don’t forget to check out the 70.3 Prize Giveaway going on HERE.

HOW?

The Process

If you are not familiar with the 70.3 World Championship qualifying process you can read in depth about it HERE. I will try to explain it in short. From 5 July to 31 June you “chase” points around the World. You can use five 70.3 races towards your total. Point values range from 3000 (70.3 World Champs from the previous year) to 1. Winning a race can get you 3000, 1500, 750 or 500 based on how many points the race has. A full breakdown of the points can be found on this HERE. You can automatically qualify for 70.3 World Championships by winning one of the 5 70.3 Regional Championships (which have 1500 points). The past 5 years of champions also automatically qualify, although they have to validate as well.

There are 2 different cutoff periods, one is the initial 35 slots which happens on 1 June, and the second happens on 1 July. WTC emails each athlete that has qualified–if they decline their slot, it rolls down to the next athlete. I believe this year the first round rolled down to 83rd (not positive though). Once all slots have rolled down in the first round, in the next round the slots start going to the highest ranked individual that has not been offered a slot. This is where I received my slot, in the second round, luckily thanks to the amount of roll downs in the first round. I really thought it was going to roll down the rankings into the 150s, and even maybe to the 200s. That didn’t happen though due to the amount of Aussies that took slots.

My Path

I didn’t set out to qualify for 70.3 World Championships. It was nowhere on the radar of races to do, nowhere in the plan or on the goals list. I happened to do 2 races over in Korea in September and October of 2015. Those races were 750 points, and 500 points. I was 4th at the 500 point race (Incheon) and 6th at the 750 point race (Gurye). The next biggest points race was at Dubai which had 750 points, and I was 7th there. Those were the three races that contributed ~95% of my points. The other 2 races were Staffordshire, which was 750 points, but I had a flat on the bike and ended up 12th. The other race was Galveston, which was a 500 point race I believe, and I had some issues with my feet/running shoes there, which had me back in 31st.

With those 3 main races, and the 2 “other” races, it put me at 98th in the 70.3 Rankings when all was said and done.

Why go?

Why not? You only live once, and I started racing in the pro ranks to race the best in the world. This race provides that opportunity, to line up against some of the best (I say this because some top athletes are skipping out on this race) in the world and see where I stack up. I have ZERO expectations going into this race. Training has not been ideal the last few weeks, a lot of travel, little sleep, but I look back at the Philippines/Korea double and I think that gave me a good boost in fitness. Just like I feel this World Champs/Weymouth double will give me a little boost.

So on Sunday when I step/tread water on the same start line with the best in the world, I have nothing to lose. No expectations and not a single thing to worry about. I am just going out there and racing my race, to the best of my ability. And more than likely this is exactly how it will be. I will be behind out of the water and ride the first 30-40 miles completely solo, hopefully catching a pack by that point. That is when it gets a bit tactical.

I am looking forward to the run, should be a fast and flat course with a ton of support due to it being 2 loops.

Financials?

Since I have been quite open about the financials of a Pro (see year 1 recap HERE), here is the financial breakdown on the race. The race only pays top 10, so in reality I am going to this race with the expectation of losing money, NOW. How can I possibly make money later? Maybe this race will give some exposure to potential sponsors? Maybe it will bring interest from sponsors outside of the sport? Maybe my non-endemic sponsors will appreciate supporting a guy that is racing at one of the biggest races in the world? I can only hope, that some of those things happen. At the end of the day, seize the opportunity, and this is one of those that I wasn’t going to let pass, for what is a pretty “inexpensive” trip in relation to the magnitude of the event. This is really the only negative in my opinion, losing this amount of money.

Flight– $1,170
Bus Ticket in UK– £30 ($ 40 USD)
Transfer to Event– Ride from the Great Lee Boyer
Accommodation– The Great Lee Boyer is helping me out with a room
Food– I would be eating anyways 🙂

Why am I the ONLY American Male?

Well if you look at the start list it shows that Rodrigo Acevdeo is listed under the “USA”. He actually happens to live in the US, but represents Colombia. I spoke to him over chat about this just to verify. But he is a proud Colombian as listed on his website. So here is a list of the other Americans that were ranked higher than me, however they are not racing. The notes to the side are MY thoughts/guesses on why they are not racing. (WTC took down the final points listing and has not uploaded as in previous years, so a few of these are off of memory and may not be completely accurate)

Timothy O’Donnell (he keeps taking himself off of every start list I am on, this isn’t the first time ;). In all honesty, TO is completely focused on Kona and that is what he is targeting. Like the others below, this is a HUGE trip not in the best time for a North American-based, Kona-focused athlete to travel to.
Ben Hoffman– Same as TO, focused on Kona.
Chris Liefferman– Not really sure, but after his win last weekend at IM Mont Tremblant, it appears he was focusing on that.
Andy Potts– This one has been discussed quite a bit on Slowtwitch. I personally think Andy could be a Top 3-5 contender at 70.3 Worlds, but once again focused on Kona and being based in Colorado, this trip doesn’t make sense for him.
Ben Collins– One of the ones I am not positive on if he turned down a slot, but either way Ben is very capable of being in the Top 10 at this race. Instead Ben is being an amazing ambassador for our sport and guiding/piloting World Champion Aaron Schiedies at the Paralympics Cycling Event in Rio. I have guided Aaron a few times in Tri and was his 3rd-5th “alternate” for Rio, so all the best to these guys down there!
Matt Charbot– One of the ones I am not positive on if he turned down a slot. Going out on a limb and thinking his focus was Kona, although he just missed a slot as of now. So my bet is he will turn his focus to a Sept-Nov Full IM to start targeting Kona 2017. Due to holding out for Kona, meant that he would have turned down his 70.3 Worlds slot if Kona was his true focus. It could also be that he decided to focus on ITU LC Worlds rather than 70.3 Worlds.

Cody Beals (NOT American, actually Canadian)- However, he writes a great piece HERE on his race selection process, so give it a read. He is focusing on ITU Long Distance Worlds which is 11 September in Oklahoma.

I am missing a few others here, so my apologies, but can’t remember off the top of my head. Once again, these are my thoughts/opinions on why these guys aren’t racing. For some the financial “risk/gamble” could also play into the equation. Another note is ITU Long Course Worlds are taking place in Oklahoma, USA, which could play into some peoples decision as they may be racing that, i.e. Cody Beals.

The Progression

This will be my first time racing a World Championship as a Pro, my 8th World Championship total. 4x Kona and 3x 70.3 World Champs. My first World Championship race as an Age Grouper was 2009 in Clearwater Florida, I got beat by a LOT of the female Age Group Winners and was in the 600’s overall. 2013 & 2014 at 70.3 World Champs I was 9th in my Age Group, and 36th Amateur & 51st Overall in 2014. Interestingly, in 2014 I “tied” Daniel Ryf (the 2014 70.3 World Champ), although they have me listed ahead of her 😉 So we will see what happens this weekend. Racing in the pro ranks is definitely different than as an Age Grouper, especially at a race like this with close to 3,000 competitors.

2017 & 70.3 World Champs in Chattanooga, Tennessee?

Been asked a few times if I am planning on doing this race. With the points I received from Korea and the Philippines I am sitting pretty nice, but September 2017 is a long ways away. Let’s take it one step at a time and see how this weekend goes 🙂 If I was to get a slot, it would be really hard to turn down a World Championship in the USA!

70.3 Giveaway, Over $1,000 in Prizes

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway that is currently going on. Thanks to my sponsors for putting in some amazing prizes!

About the Author

Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast