Things Andrew Messick Said at the Triathlon Business International Conference


1. China: the future is now – And, not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re doing a shit job embracing that future. According to WTC’s super scientific data system numbers, they had only 400 athletes in mainland China last year. Out of 1.3 billion people. That’s not a lot.

2. That’s why WTC has two new races in China and full-time staff there now trying to navigate local politics, find clean water, etc. (Apparently, there’s still some “sensitivity” in China about large groups of people gathering in public places…) Also, all those future triathletes need coaches and training plans. In Mandarin.

3. Thank God, those people can turn to IronmanU. When it comes to creating a coaching and certification program, Messick believes, WTC is “as good or better than anyone.”

4. WTC will be “doing more” diversification of its revenue streams. ie. more IronmanU, and whatever else he thinks it needs to create triathletes to sell triathlons to

5. And it will certainly be doing more expansion. “Begrudingly” into shorter distance races, when there isn’t a good provider of shorter races to introduce beginners to the sport.

6. There are two reasons, he says, WTC acquired Lagardère Sports: 1. “It’s less about races, and it’s much more about media.” They acquire some ITU media rights with the purchase, so the plan now is to create “one single destination for triathlon media.” 2. They also gain “opportunities for scale” with the boots on the ground.

7. Seriously, the continued expansion is going to be in underserved international markets: Asia, South America, not US/Canada.

8. “The future is going to be much less focused on Caucasian men.” Sorry, guys.

9. And, to that end, he feels really great about how the Women for Tri board is doing with that. Grrrreat. Nothing he’d change. 

10. Though there is this little problem: female participation is highest in the U.S./Canada (and it’s not that high here). Messick doesn’t know if all those new markets they plan to expand into will ever have female participation as grrrreat as in the U.S./Canada for “very cultural reasons.”

11. “We’re trying to find ways to make Kona a slightly larger race.” Hah, no, not like that. So they can sell more spots.

12. Kona lottery slots are not coming back this year, though he would like you to know that he finds that “heartbreaking.” Truly. And there’s just no way, no way, absolutely can’t possibly think of any way to have a free lottery. How can he guarantee that the people who win the spots in a free lottery really deserve the spots and are from our community? “Kona slots are too valuable to just give away to anyone.” (And, yes, you Kona-obsessed fuckers, that does mean the 100 lottery slots will be used somewhere else in 2016. No, we don’t know where yet; my guess is the legacy program.)

13. Over 90% of Kona slots are claimed at awards ceremonies. That is, uh, less true for the 70.3 World Championships. And yet, repeat rates at Kona are low. One and done, or just too much work?

14. “The great existential threat” that WTC faces is that all you wealthy, well-to-do triathletes with time and money and options will decide ‘screw it, triathlon isn’t worth the hassle.’ And instead of signing up for an Ironman, you’ll all decide to take your families to France for the summer instead. Evidently, he hasn’t met all of you. So consider that a challenge.

About the Author

Kelly O'Mara
Kelly is a reporter and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She quit triathlon for a few years, because triathletes can be annoying, but now she's back into it and only hanging out with the non-annoying triathletes. She blogs about stuff at Sunny Running.