What Others Are Saying

On Equality

Jodie Swallow, World Champion & Professional Athlete: “I think that number should be equal. I think it more of a priority to make sure that World Championship qualifiers in elite sport do not leave the Championship severely out of pocket for want of competing. At the moment only the top 10 win prize money. Eleventh in the world gets a big flight, accommodation and living bill. I would like equal slots. I would like a fair race, with no male infusion – age group or pro, with even coverage and mechanical and media provision for each gender. They are my major concerns. I don’t want any extra professional women to have to sacrifice their season and spend money to compete in the World Champs with no financial reward. This is a legitimate career and should be treated as such.” (Swallow on Bahrain Endurance 13, Slowtwitch, May 5, 2015)

Chris Wright, Immigration Lawyer & Age Group Triathlete: “Imagine if, in the lead up to the 2016 Games, the International Olympic Committee released this statement: Because fewer women participate in sport globally than men, it has been decided that, as a point of principle, we cannot allow the Olympic Games – representing as they do the pinnacle of the sport and showcasing the talent of the world’s best – to have an athlete composition that is equal.  We’ve determined that it is, in our omniscient view, fair to have 60 percent of the athletes be men, and 40 percent be women.  Beyond fair, it is a great deal: women actually only constitute 36 percent of the wolrd’s sport-participating population, and it would be antithetical to the Olympic spirit to arbitrarily advantage them over the men who get a meager 60 percent allocation.

“If a college program in the United States attempted to get away with such nonsense, they would get sued, immediately and successfully.” (Ironman’s treatment of female professionals is indefensible, The Wright Stuff, April 29, 2015)

Kathryn Bertine, Writer, Filmmaker, Former Professional Cyclist & Triathlete:Those women in the “last 15” are not just professional triathletes. (I see doctors, architects, teachers and a whole bunch of full-time moms on the results list of the current pro field). These athletes are members of our community who will grow the sport of triathlon by setting an example of what we all can do while we chase our dreams. Imagine if, instead of fighting for equality, these women could spend the time celebrating and publicizing the advancements of triathlon as a leader in sports equity.” (The Last Pro Female Finisher at Kona, Triathlete.com, April 24, 2015)

Beth Gerdes, Professional Athlete: “I currently am ranked 14th in the KPR with 4515 points. That would be about 1000 more points than I would need to qualify for Kona if I was a man. However, with only 35 slots available for women compared to 50 for men, I still need to improve my KPR points to have a hope at qualifying, so I am really focused on Ironman Cairns. Following Cairns will be a big break and then hopefully a long, steady Kona build-up.” (A few words with Beth Gerdes, Slowtwitch, March 31, 2015)

Jarrod Shoemaker, World Champion, and Professional Athlete: “Everybody that works within Ironman should be ashamed of themselves, no matter what their gender is. Triathlon is and has always been a sport built on gender equality.” (50 women to kona, jarrodshoemaker.com, March 30, 2015)

Meredith Atwood, Blogger at SwimBikeMom & Member of Women for Tri Board: “Right now, the World Championships in Kona allows FIFTY professional MEN to race each year.  That means 50 male triathletes receive the opportunity to complete (sic) at Kona each year.  That means that 50 men have the opportunity to earn the highest honor of racing in Kona, thus opportunity for prize money and increased sponsorships and of course, a shot at the title of World Champion.  They have the opportunity to set their sights on the highest goal, knowing there are fifty slots available.

The World Championships allow only THIRTY-FIVE professional WOMEN to race.  That means that 15 fewer women have the same opportunities as the men, above.  That’s the bottom-line fact. (50 Women to Kona, Mud, Social Media and Rain, www.SwimBikeMom.com, March 22, 2015)

Brett “The Doc” Sutton, Coach: “I believe in and have long advocated for equal representation of pro men and women at the World Championships. It is inevitable. To argue against it is to be on the wrong side of common sense, fairness and history.” (An Opportunity for Real Leadership #50WomentoKona, Trisutto.com, March 11, 2015)

Bob Babbit, Founding Director of Challenged Athletes Foundation & Host Babbittville: “Having fewer female pros than male pros at the starting line of the most important event in our sport is not only short sighted, it sends a bad message to women already in our sport and to young girls just getting started.  More importantly, it’s just plain wrong.” (Do The Right Thing, Babbittville.com, February 11, 2015)


On 50 Women to Kona

Dan Empfield, Publisher Slowtwitch: “Do I believe the pro field should be gender-equal in Kona? Yes, because I ask myself what would happen if the women engaged in a robust effort to attract new Ironman Pro members, so that the women pros outnumbered the men 3-to-1. Would I be willing to adjust numbers, placing 60 pro women and 20 men on the starting line? Yes I would in the age group field, but not in the pro field. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Intellectual honesty, if nothing else, requires me to stand on the side of gender equality on the pro start line in Kona.” (The Fight for a Fuller Discussion, Slowtwitch Editorial, April 21, 2015)

John Newsom, Co-host of IM Talk: “It is like a PR nightmare for you guys.”  (Podcast episode 461 speaking to Andrew Messick, April 27, 2015)

Julia Polloreno, Editor-In-Chief at Triathlete & Triathlete.com: “I do believe that equal representation of pro women is the right step—and message—in laying a foundation for future sustainable growth of our sport.  Ironman has been a true pioneer in holding up women to a new standard, helping them dream a little bigger and enabling significant earning opportunities as they pursue their triathlon goals. Taking the final step by providing equitable professional representation at the world championship can close the circle and set us all up for success.”  (The Fight for Gender Equality in Ironman, Outsideonline.com, April 6, 2015)

Beth Gerdes, Professional Athlete: “I believe in equality. Period. If I must elaborate even though it’s 2015, I believe that women truly deserve 50 spots at the world championships like their male counterparts. Currently, we are forced to race more than the men as you can see in that I still need to do another Ironman, but if I was a man I would be safe with my current points. In addition there are so many side effects to having just 35 women. For example, smaller 2000pt races are getting weaker female fields because our hand is forced to the 4000 points races if we are Kona hopeful and many non-Kona hopefuls are choosing to Challenge and WTC. This is because even winning two 2000 point Ironman events would not be nearly enough to qualify for Kona as a woman but it would be fine for a man. Personally, I now believe that I am good enough to line up with the best women in the world on that start line, but now, going 9:04 and 9:05 in my last two Ironmans and being in the mix in those races with podium finishers at Kona is not enough to get you there. I still have to race another Ironman after three solid Ironman results, all within the top 5 including a Championship race. I don’t believe I would be just “filler” on the Kona start line as some are making women 35-50 feel we would be. (A few words with Beth Gerdes, Slowtwitch, March 31, 2015)

Sarah Springman, Retired Professional Athlete & First Vice President of ITU: “I support fairness and equality in sport.  I support #50womentokona.

“I call on the organizers of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii to remember the equality of opportunity and to make sure there are 50 places in their championships in October this year.” (Sarah Springman Supports #50womentokona, Witsup.com, March 8, 2015)

Hillary Biscay, Jordan Blanco, Justin Daerr, Mary Beth Ellis, Dede Griesbauer, Jennie Hansen, Christine Hammond, Jackie Hering, Rachel Joyce, Emma-Kate Lidbury, Catriona Morrison, Laura Reback Bennett, Maggie Rusch, Kim Schwabenbauer, Emily Sherrard, Dr. Amanda Stevens, Chrissie Wellington, Heather & Trevor (Team) Wurtele, Professional Athletes: “I support equality and fairness in sport.  I support #50womentokona.” (Individuals’ social media posts, March 8, 2015 – International Women’s Day)

Tim Don, Professional Athlete: “Just as long as we have equal male and female start slots at Kona I am easy on the numbers 10/10, 30/30 or 50/50.” (Comment posted to The hunt for equal Kona Slots, Slowtwitch, February 16, 2015)

Bob Babbit, Founding Director of Challenged Athletes Foundation & Host Babbittville: ”To decide that only 35 pro women can race in Kona at the most prestigious event in our sport while inviting 50 pro men to participate in that same event is simply wrong.” (Do The Right Thing, Babbittville.com, February 11, 2015)


On The Fair Start Protocol

Angela Naeth, Professional Athlete: “I am strong supporter of TriEqual Fair Starts Protocol. It showcases a simple way to create fairness in the races for both professional men and women.” (TriEqual Announces Initiative to Promote Equality in Triathlon and Calls for New Fair Starts Protocol in All Triathlon Races, Lava Magazine.com, April 29, 2015)

Meredith Kessler, Professional Athlete: “As I understand it, the vision of the founders of Ironman racing was each individual racing alone to beat the course and the other athletes.  The purity of Ironman racing should be preserved. Without fair starts, the vision of the Ironman founders has been sacrificed because it is virtually impossible to race without interference on any course.” (TriEqual Announces Initiative to Promote Equality in Triathlon and Calls for New Fair Starts Protocol in All Triathlon Races, Triathlon Magazine Canada.com, April 29, 2015)


On The Role of Sport in Culture

Chrissie Wellington, World Champion, Retired Professional Athlete, Philanthropist, Author: “To me, sport is so much more than simply being a path to gold medals.  It inspires, educates and empowers and I will always want to play a part in helping to bring sport and physical activity into the lives of everyone no matter who they are.” (Retired Pros: Where Are They Now? Triathlon Magazine.com, May 6, 2015)

Jarrod Shoemaker, World Champion, and Professional Athlete: “The difference is 15 women, 15 more stories, 15 more communities to inspire, 15 more sponsors to engage. In the overall race that is nothing and might not even affect who wins the women’s race, but that is not the point.” (50 women to kona, jarrodshoemaker.com, March 30, 2015)

Bob Babbit, Founding Director of Challenged Athletes Foundation & Host Babbittville: “Sport is all about opportunity. When it comes to male and female professional triathletes, the very best 50 men and the very best 50 women should be on the start line at the World Championship.” (Do The Right Thing, Babbittville.com, February 11, 2015)