FAQ about TriEqual
1. What is TriEqual?
TriEqual is a group of men and women dedicated to fairness, development and equality in the sport of triathlon. As such, TriEqual aims to ensure that all groups within the triathlon community are treated equally and with respect. Further, we aim to increase participation and diversity by increasing accessibility for all athletes, from beginners to elites.
2. What is the relationship between TriEqual and #50womentokona?
At the start of the #50WomenToKona movement, a core group came together to form TriEqual. They have been joined by many volunteers and supporters and continue to look for others to help champion their cause.
3. How did TriEqual get started?
TriEqual started when a group of people came together over the issue of inequality for the female pros at Kona. A history of the movement can be found here.
4. What difference will equal slots in Kona really make for female pros?
It will provide for equal opportunity relative to her male counterparts. For example, professional athletes need support from sponsors in order to have the time and financial stability to train and race. This financial stability often comes from sponsors, and sponsors want results –specifically seeing their athletes racing on the big stage at Kona. As there are more opportunities for professional male triathletes to race in Kona, there are also more opportunities for greater exposure. Less opportunity for professional women to race in Kona means less of that exposure necessary to secure and maintain vital sponsorships. Providing equal slots for male and female professional triathletes puts male and female triathletes on a level playing field.
5. How does adding more pros to Kona help increase overall female participation in the sport?
Participation follows opportunity. Prior to the passage of Title Nine in 1972, only 29,977 women participated in college sports. Over the next 35 years, women’s participation in college sports increased by 456%. Today, over forty years later, 45% of college athletes are women. Greater opportunities for collegiate athletes encouraged greater participation at all levels and particularly increased participation by girls in youth sports. Increased professional opportunities for women in Kona will increase participation for women at all levels in triathlon. Conversely Ironman’s current regressive policy serves as a deterrent to women interested in long course triathlon.
6. Don’t women have the same opportunity to enter any race as men do?
Actually, no. At Ironman Kona there are 50 slots for male triathletes and 35 slots for female triathletes. But, let’s dig deeper. In order to qualify for Kona, a professional male triathlete must rank in the top 50 in the Kona Points Rankings (“KPR”) while a professional female triathlete must rank in the top 35 in the KPR (for simplicity I’m leaving out previous Kona winners and the new auto qualifiers for regional championships in 2015). This means that a female professional triathlete must score more points than a male professional triathlete in order to qualify for Kona by either placing higher or racing more often than her male counterpart. That’s not an “equal opportunity.”
7. Won’t the number of Kona slots for female pros increase if the overall number of female pros increases?
No they won’t. While the number of Kona slots for age groupers increases or decreases proportionally based on number of people racing in any particular age group, the number of Kona slots for professional women is set at 35 and there is currently no way to increase that number. If tomorrow the percentage of women participating in Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events was 50 / 50 there would still be 35 slots for professional women and 50 slots for professional men. No change.
8. Should the female pros have to earn their Kona slots through increased participation, just like age groupers do?
Using this line of reasoning, there should be no slots for physically challenged athletes at Kona. Physically challenged athletes constitute a tiny fraction of a percentage of all athletes that complete Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races, yet there are a disproportionate number of slots reserved for physically challenged athletes each year at Kona. Should these slots not be “handed” to physically challenged athletes until they “earn” them with increased participation numbers? Of course not. Physically challenged athletes deserve their slots, as do the best 50 women in the world.
9. Isn’t the pier in Kona too crowded from any additional slots?
While the pier may appear crowded, in 2014 the WTC “discovered” room for an additional 75 slots. There is no reason why 15 of the slots cannot go to pro females.
10. What about the age group women? Don’t they deserve equality as well?
The short answer to this is yes, of course the age group women deserve equality. And here’s how we can achieve that. First, lets make sure our elite female athletes are treated fairly and equitably at the world championship level by ensuring they have equal opportunity to race. At the same time, let’s work towards increasing female participation, which will be aided by the WTC if they allow equality for the professionals since the pros are models and mentors for triathletes at the grassroots level.
Unlike the qualification system for the pros, the qualification system for age group athletes already has a built-in scheme that will increase the number of slots for female age groupers as participation increases. By creating equality at the pro level, making women feel welcome in our sport because of the resulting face of equality and working to increase participation by other means, we can achieve equality across the board!
11. Isn’t the men’s professional field stronger than the women’s professional field? Don’t they deserve more slots?
A statistical analysis of the 2014 men’s and women’s professional fields at the Ironman World Championship in Kona demonstrates that both fields were equally competitive at comparable depths. It does not take statistics, however, to show that the professional women’s field may be even more competitive (and compelling) than the professional men’s field. In 2014, at 30 km into the marathon, Sebastian Kienle had all but locked up the victory as he led the field by over 10 minutes. Comparatively at the 30km into the marathon three women — Daniela Ryf, Rachel Joyce and Mirinda Carfrae — were still competing for the victory.
12. Shouldn’t the focus be on encouraging more age group women to participate rather than trying to secure 15 additional slots for the professional women?
Focusing solely on age group women ignores the fact that growth can be both top down and bottom up (they are not mutually exclusive). Look at the effect Tiger Woods had on golf or Serena Williams had on tennis. Both are charismatic stars from under represented demographics who dramatically drove growth in new sectors. Grassroots efforts and equality at the highest levels of the sport can serve the same purpose — attracting women to the sport of triathlon and maintaining their involvement over time. This is a win – win.
13. Is this just about Kona? What about 70.3 World Championships?
Kona has remained a focus due to its visibility in the sport, but this movement is also for the promotion of equal slots at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. The 70.3 championship race has historically changed venues, providing further evidence that equality could take place regardless of pier space or other logistical challenges relating to the race in Kona.
14. How can I get involved?
Openness and working together with others are part of our mandate. Please contact us here with your questions, concerns and especially, to volunteer!