A Crazy Idea – The US Ironman Tour

It was early evening the day before the ITU Long Distance Worlds and a group of us headed in to Immenstadt for the inconveniently timed race briefing. We’d gone early for pre-race coffee and cake and after a short exploration of the town had stumbled on the perfect German bakery. Both coffee and cake was excellent and I didn’t regret the little bit of carb loading prior to my race.

Conversation turned to professional Ironman racing and plans for the coming year. I noted that if I completed my 2011 objective of going sub-9 in Austria I could probably get a pro licence. If you buy a licence for $750 you can enter as many Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races as you like. You don’t need to worry about getting your entry in before they fill either. What would that means for someone who’s not going to be winning pro races, but has raced a lot in the past?

I commented that it’d make it easier to get into the US races which can be tricky for Europeans. With preference for registrants on the day we don’t get much chance to enter some of them. I’ve enjoyed the times I’ve raced in the US and would love to do it again. Sure there’s Hawaii, but that’s a different game. Outside of the World Championship there are eight other US Ironman races I could do.

Rob noted I could do all the US Ironman races for the bargain price of $750. It’s not like I hadn’t set a precedent for racing a lot in a single season. He pushed the point and suggested a road trip. Me in a Winnebago driving across the US making stop offs along the way to race the Ironman events. It was a stupid idea!

View US Ironman Locations in a larger map

Stupid enough that it needed further debate. The conversation went on as it would on several more occasions after that. Logistically it’s huge, I can only begin to imagine the cost of such a trip. How would I fund it? Could there be sponsorship? For sure I’d be blogging, video blogging, twittering and all over the social networks. Perhaps I could get something in a magazine? How about a book? The more I talked the crazier the idea became.

On arrival back in the UK one of the first things I did was create the Google map above. Charting where the races are and google’s recommended routes between them. I pulled up the data into a table of stages with the driving involved. Would it ever be too far? And would it be possible without some form of support crew?

Stage Race Date Location Distance (Google) Time Gap (days)
1 Ironman St. George 5/5/2012 St. George, Utah 0 0
2 Ironman Texas 19/5/2012 The Woodlands, Houston, Texas 1400 14
3 Ironman Coeur d’Alene 24/6/2012 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 2065 36
4 Ironman Lake Placid 29/7/2012 Lake Placid, New York 2622 35
5 Ironman Louisville 26/8/2012 Louisville, Kentucky 867 28
6 Ironman Wisconsin 9/9/2012 Madison, Wisconsin 442 14
7 Ironman Florida 3/11/2012 Panama City Beach, Florida 1052 55
8 Ironman Arizona 17/11/2012 Tempe, Arizona 1788 14
Total 10236 196

Since then I’ve made little more progress. I discovered how expensive renting winnebagos can be and scaled down the size of mobile home in mind. My conclusions so far is the best option is to buy a second hand mobile home and sell it at the end of the trip. Fuel costs will be a major factor of course, average prices suggested something in the order of $5000 minimum on gas!

Following the early excitement the idea has percolated in the back of my mind. Sometimes it seems too crazy and has to be dismissed, but then there’s a real possibility and I’ve time to work towards this. It would be a rare adventure and amazing experience. I left work and became a full time triathlete on the argument it would make for more interesting stories in my old age. A trip like that would be hard to top on those lines!

Yesterday morning at the Tri2O lake I was chatting with a regular Alex Flynn. Alex is 38 year old guy who unfortunately suffers from Parkinsons. He’s not taken this sitting down, but instead pushes himself through endurance challenge after endurance challenge to raise money to help fight the disease. Have a look at his website, Like his Facebook page, but more importantly donate some money!

There’s a good chance I’ll be working with Alex on some of his projects in the future. His enthusiasm and drive is infectious and we had a great chat. There’s lot’s of opportunities there and all for the benefit of a good cause. He’s also inspired me to consider the potential of this crazy idea once more. Perhaps a US Ironman Tour could work and perhaps in the process it could do some good for others?

I told Rob I’d post about the idea just so people knew it was in the back of my mind. It’s the first step towards actually committing to the project. I also told him it entirely depended on me being able to go sub-9 to get a Pro Licence and raising the required funds to make the trip happen. There’s a long way to go yet. For now it remains a (slightly) crazy idea.


  • Triathlon789

    Crazy fool!!!

  • Do it! Cracking idea!!

  • Too much encouragement and it might actually happen. It’s all ideas brewing in my head right now. Two big hurdles – the pro licence and the money! If I get beyond them then just as I promised Rob I’ll do it!

  • Mark

    You should do it.

    Why do you need 9 hours? BTF website says:

    “4) Be an age group athlete who has obtained a podium place in a recognised domestic middle distance or long distance event or has come in the top ten in the age group catagory or an Ironman or other international long distance event OR be an age group athlete who has come within 10% of the winner’s time in a recognised long distance event. Age group athletes will need to show at least one season of regular long distance racing.”

  • Mark,

    Shows how well I’ve researched the requirements for turning Pro! Had no idea that was the criteria they applied. I guess that actually means step 1. obtaining a pro licence is easier than I thought.

    On a personal note – I’d be happier applying with a sub-9 on the result list just because that brings me closer to actually racing with the pros. Then again the nature of the project means that ultimately the pro licence is being used to get cheap race entry!

    Cheers for pointing this out though.


  • maryka

    I’d get on this sooner rather than later as I think that “race all you want for $750” may go away once they realise a lot of pros will need to do a lot of races to get the required points for Kona.

  • Funnily I was just reading the Pro licence page and thinking that $750 for 2010 was likely to change. Especially as I believe the fee now includes Kona/Clearwater too.

    I will have to wait and see what the 2011 fee will look like from September. Whatever it is I suspect it should still work out better than entering separately. Of course if they completely abolish it it’ll be interesting to see how they do expect pros to pay. 2012 would be the first chance they’d get to test a new scheme and to be honest is the earliest I could see myself getting the funds together.

  • Sounds like a cracking idea. My experience of racing in the US (not massive, admitedly) is that the standard isn’t as high as in Europe – you’d definitely be in the mix with the local elites.

  • Certainly outside of the top tier everything I’ve seen agrees with you Ian.

    Some surprisingly serious talks have already been going on, so who knows. I probably should rename this a cracking idea rather than crazy…

  • Laura

    it’s not crazy. do it! 🙂

  • Yeah, but then you thought it was a good idea for me to up sticks and leave my job to travel and be a triathlete. Look where that’s got me now…

  • It’s a great idea. Funnily enough a friend talked to me a couple of months ago asking about what was required for a Pro license as he and a friend were thinking of doing a “Tour of the US Ironman Races”. Weird
    It may be worth approaching the WTC about it – if you’re raising money for charity they may help get entries. I don’t believe that having the pro license guarantees a particular race will give you a spot. I know of examples where races have said they have no pro slots left.
    I would be totally upfront about what you’re doing as I don’t really think the idea of the pro license if for cheap race entry though I can imagine there’s a few out there who want to race a lot and aren’t bothered about Kona who will be thinking this. If the system is abused I imagine they’ll raise the criteria for getting a pro license. That said you’re right in the ball park for being the right standard anyway.

  • Possibly I’ve had a few emails with that particular friend of yours since this post.

    The pro licence issue – I originally stated it to Rob as a sub-9 would make it an option and if I was doing it alone potentially it was the cheapest way to get into a race. Wasn’t aware races could refuse, but that would obviously be another issue to consider.

    I might still go for the pro licence if I did get that time in Austria – just for the hell of it. That said I always felt being able to swim sub-55 would be pretty important so there was less chance of being the last male pro out the water. Guess I better work on the pool time.