Sunday, March 9, 2014

So you think you wanna go pro? Think again!

I’ve heard a lot of age groupers complain about the special treatment of the professional triathletes, but few have competed on both sides.

There are a lot of advantages to racing as a pro.

- Complimentary race entries at many large races
- Cool ‘Elite’ USAT Membership Card which always makes volunteers do a ‘double-take’
- Toe the line next to the BEST in the WORLD!
- Eat and hang out with the BEST in the WORLD!
- Get to know the BEST in the WORLD!
- Start races FIRST which avoids the chaos especially in large Ironman starts
- Get to wait until race morning to drop off your bike (at most large races)
- Get to wait until closer to the date of large events to register
- Homestays :)

Lots of folks have asked me why I went pro and my response was almost always, “Why not?” If I could, then why wouldn’t I take advantage of my fitness while I still can? Especially after seeing all the advantages! However, over the years I started questioning my decision - especially considering I work full time. Here’s my rationale:

- Get A$$ kicked by BEST in the WORLD!
- Have to pull results if I do not place overall in events that do not contain a pro field (so if you’re having a bad day you can’t just take a bad time, you essentially are considered DNF)
- Rarely place overall in a large event
- Get A$$ kicked by BEST in the WORLD some more!
- A LOT more pressure
- Colder wetsuit cutoff (68 for Olympic distance even if it’s cold outside too)
- Little to no one around you while racing = boring
- Harder to obtain sponsorship because harder to place
- Get A$$ kicked by BEST in the WORLD even more!

After almost a decade of racing as a pro, I decided to retire my card. It was a tough decision and, yes, I was very sad. Almost immediately after I decided, I emailed the teams I had applied to for sponsorship. Within a day, EVERY ONE OF THEM OFFERED ME SPONSORSHIP! For all these years I’ve been a pro, I struggled with the pressure and the rejection of sponsors. I had no idea placing as an age grouper carried more weight than being a professional – albeit a back-of-the-pack professional.

So, if you are considering going pro, I suggest either 1 – get sponsors BEFORE you go and HOPE they stick with you when you go; or 2 – go all the way and know that you really need to make it a full-time job to get good sponsors as a pro; or 3 – go anyway since YOU CAN.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Kat! It's a tough decision and I was not able to get advice when I originally entered the pro field, so hopefully this will help others :)