New WTC Transfer Policy: How I Switched My Ironman Races

So, yes, I have officially switched from Ironman Coeur d’Alene to Ironman Canada in Whistler four weeks later. Guess I need to update my schedule.

Going from this:

Lake, mountains, masses of people.
Lake, mountains, masses of people.

To this:

Lakes, mountains, masses of people. Photos: Ironman
Lakes, mountains, masses of people. Photos: Ironman

TOTALLY DIFFERENT!

The problem — though it’s not really a problem — was that one of my editors asked me to cover the USA Track and Field Nationals in Sacramento this summer. Yes! Absolutely! I didn’t even think about it. Because 1. it sounds super awesome and exciting and I love track and field and 2. great opportunity, career, growth, etc. But, then a few weeks later, I realized it was the same weekend as IM CDA. Well, shit. There was no way to change Ironman races, so I figured I’d have to bail on the super awesome assignment.

Except. EXCEPT.

This past Friday Ironman (World Triathlon Corp.) announced a new transfer policy in North America. I probably would have missed the email, because I generally get a lot of emails and it was subjected something like “A Note from Our CEO” or “A New Change for Ironman.” But, Christi knew I’d been stressing about this and forwarded me the email and texted me. On Valentine’s Day evening. Thanks for thinking of me and ignoring Greg!

The new policy is very simple: If you have something come up (injury or work or life or whatever), you can switch your Ironman to another OPEN IM race or 70.3 in the same year. It has to be open, it can’t be sold out. And, it has to be at least 45 days in advance, I think. And, you have to pay any race difference + $50 transfer fee. And, you can only do this once. That’s it.

That’s all very reasonable and probably what people have been asking for.

I did a lot of Googling in the next 24 hours to make sure it was do-able and that I wasn’t going to lose money on housing if I changed and that I could change my training plan and travel and all that. And, by Saturday evening I submitted my transfer request. I was probably one of the first people to submit a transfer request. If you need to submit a transfer request, you can get all the information about Ironman race transfers at their website. It’s very easy. You don’t even have to give a reason or excuse or long-winded explanation.

WTC is not usually my most favorite company. I was nervous that I’d get denied or it’d be more expensive than they said or that they’d cancel my IM CDA registration but not give me the new registration. And, there were some very nervous moments when I got an email on Monday confirming the cancellation of my CDA registration 36 hours before I got the email to register for Canada. But, it all worked out. It actually was incredibly smooth and simple. SO, good job WTC!

Ultimately, they verify that you were in the initial event, check with the event you want to switch into, and send you a link to register for the new race under the transfer system. And, just like that I’m signed up for Whistler on July 27, I get to do the reporting job, and everything is perfect. (You know, sort of.)

If I was going to venture a guess, I would imagine that WTC had been getting terrible feedback on their ‘no transfers ever for anything’ policy. They were pretty hard-assed and the only reason you could ever switch events was if you were called into active military duty. Period. That was it. Obviously, with the growth of the sport and the growth of the Ironman brand/corporation, that policy wasn’t really working for them anymore. There are competitor events people could opt to do instead.

But, the other factor, I’d guess, is that they had created competition among their own events. There are so, so many Ironman events now. They used to be able to say no refunds, no transfers because there were like five North American Ironman races and that was it. Now, though, they have so many they’re not even selling out on them all. So, if you don’t need to anymore, why would you sign up a year in advance when there are so many things that can go wrong in that year? I’m guessing the policy was driving down their sign-up numbers and leaving their less popular events under-filled. Now, if they let you switch into an event that is still open, then you’re happy, that event that wasn’t filling up gets numbers, and they are perhaps able to sell your initial registration.

It’ll be interesting to see how — as the transfer policy becomes more utilized — it affects registration numbers overall and at the sell-out popular events. If people are encouraged to get their name down because they have less to lose, will it become even harder to sign up for Wisconsin and Arizona and then will there be huge numbers transferring out later? I’m sure they considered that, but Ironman triathletes are totally insane, so hopefully they don’t start doing crazy stuff like signing up for a bunch of races and then transferring out of them all later.

We’ll see. Overall, it’s a great change and super logical. I think it’ll make Ironman athletes a lot happier, should be good for the business, and is always nice to see things moving in the direction of reason.

10 thoughts on “New WTC Transfer Policy: How I Switched My Ironman Races

  1. I have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that usually we can’t cancel a race, or at least give our entry to someone else. I’m glad to see they are giving some options, even though they do still seem pretty restrictive. Since we are signing up for races (especially Ironman) so long in advance, it’s only logical that things could come up.

    1. Yeah, originally when I wanted to switch to another open race and it wasn’t the policy yet, I was pretty annoyed/confused. Like, I get that they make investments and can’t just give people back all their money or let you enter a race that’s sold out, but if it’s open then why not!

  2. Wish they had this option when I couldn’t make my first ironman as a 19yo because I had to get my tonsils taken out. I was so mad I had to lose my hard earned $350 from working at SportMart! If only I knew that someday it’d cost nearly 2x more…

  3. I am with you – WTC are not my favourite bunch….ever since they gave Gordon Ramsay a slot at Kona when nto only had he not qualified, he hadn’t even done a triathlon before. I think this transfer policy is a move in the right direction, but the cynic in me says they haven’t done it for selfless reasons!!!

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