Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And the Winning Bid Is...

It is that time of year again.  Everyone in the triathlon world is starting to plan ahead to October, when the big dance takes place.  I'm talking about the Ironman World Championship.  How does one get to race in the World Championship?  It's simple, though not actually simple to do. 

There's a few different ways to get a coveted slot on that starting line.  The most obvious way is to earn it.  That is achieved by finishing in the top of your age group at either an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 event.  The sure fire bet is to win your age group, but typically there are a couple of slots to be earned in each category.  Last year, for example, my age group (M25-29) had four slots.  The trick is, you have to be present the morning after the race to claim your spot.  If you don't claim it, then it goes down to the next available finisher.  So, for my age group, finishers one and two claimed their slot, finisher three did not, finisher four did, and finisher five claimed finisher three's spot.  Confusing?  It's not really.  Typically slots don't roll down all that far.  I'd say it's pretty rare that it goes any farther than the top ten of each age group (assuming there's not that many qualifying spots to begin with).  Not to say that it hasn't, or won't ever happen, because it definitely has rolled down much farther than tenth place, and probably will again some day.

Another way is to buy your slot.  For a guy like me, this is probably my only chance to get in.  People are only getting faster, and sure, I am too, but not that fast.  The slowest qualifying time in my age group was 9:43:46.  My last Ironman, I finished in 13:14:24.  Sure, I could cut off a few hours, and hopefully I do this year.  But mid-nine's?  No way!  There's two common ways to buy a slot for Hawaii.  One is through the lottery program that takes place each year.  Entrants purchase a "lottery ticket" in hopes of being selected.  Chances are pretty slim.  The other way is through the Ironman Charitable eBay Auction.  There are four slots available, and there is a minimum bid of $10,000.  As of this writing, this is what the bid looks like:

That's a winning bid of $45,100!
It appears that the first slot sold for just over $45k, so I figure if I bid my entire annual salary, I would have been right in there for the winnings!  I haven't told my wife yet, but I'm gonna go ahead and do it.  It's worth it, right?  I don't think she'll mind.  On second thought, I'd better not.  I do enjoy being able to eat and being able to sleep in my bed, not on the couch!

So if you're like me and you have dreams of one day putting yourself through seventeen hours of a good time in Kona, then you'd better either get really fast, or get in on one of these other ways to get a slot.  I'll probably be testing the waters of the lottery program myself.  Good luck!


  1. WOW! I am sure the wife won't mind budgeting for while, right? I guess I never looked at how much the auction entries went for - that is insane!

  2. Smart man - no EBAY auctions for you!

  3. Karen, I just checked the current Ironman World Championship slot that is being auctioned (they do 1 per week, for 4 weeks...currently auctioning slot #2) and it's only up to $13,900! That is way less than the first one, so far.

    And Wife, I have a secret stash of money in the mattress. All I have to do is cut open the mattress, get out the money, and I'll have plenty of money to throw down in this obviously-affordable auction!