Take the Money and Run

Folks who follow my adventures in business and sport know that I write about an eccentric mix of stuff. The inner journalist in me was compelled to comment about the Herc because it really got me fired up. I have railed against the problems with paying prize money in amateur sports, for years. I’ve been especially vocal regarding prize money in amateur road cycling, a sport that has been spoiled by the dough. Granted, all of competitive cycling is broken right now, with the drug issues at the highest level of the sport and the corrupt system of paying amateurs a pittance for all their suffering and expense. They should just lower the entry fees, congratulate the winners, and thank all the finishers. They can re-invest profits in making the races safer or just donate it to a worthy cause.

Clearly the riders are deluded if they think that a few bucks for winning a sprint is going to make a difference. Routinely, I witness riders crashing each other over $10. How stupid! When you paid $30 to enter the race, are wearing $500 of spandex and gear (clothing, helmet, shoes, sunglasses, etc.), spent another $25 on gas money, ride a $5000 bicycle, and spend ten to 20 hours a week training; then what is $10?

At the Herc Open, I’m sure that the runners who never had a chance of winning prize money (male or female) were out there just enjoying the challenge and the magnificent Green Mountain views. However, isn’t there something wrong with the redistribution of wealth from the finishers to those that place “in the money?” Now, I did my own pro-forma profit and loss statement on the Herc, and I’m confident that there is another income line besides entry fees. Obviously, sponsors (with Herc probably first on the list)  contributed the money that went towards the huge prize list.

In addition to those that commented on the Herc post, I heard directly from many friends in the running community. Among those that contacted me directly, there were some unique viewpoints, but all agreed that the outcome was wrong. Deb knew what she was getting into when she toed the start line, but there was some confusion (not ignorance) when she first signed up. The advertising (full page color ads in major magazines) for the Herc Open proclaimed $25,000 “cash purse,” but didn’t give any detail on the weight class system. You had to go to the website. Since there was no real precedent for this, then it was pretty easy to register and not realize totally what you were getting into.  So maybe that is ignorance, but whatever. At first glance, you might think that it was a Clydesdale/Athena thing, where heavier competitors are given prizes for competing against each other.

True, it is hard to devise a system that levels a playing field. The Dipsea Race’s “handicap start system” has attempted this for years and the Shenipsit Striders have mimicked it (with some modifications) with their Soapstone Sampler and Soapstone Assault trail races, but the age/gender graded system has its own flaws.

In our family, we pursue athletic adventures with great zeal. Also, as an entrepreneurial family, we have a grasp on the economics and finance of organizations, events, and projects. We don’t live to work. We work to play, and are fortunate to have those opportunities. We seek out many of the most challenging running, cycling, and adventure racing events so that we can challenge the body and the mind. We also do it in the name of fitness, not fiscal fitness. We choose to invest resources into sport. Horst Engineering sponsors a local 5km road race that benefits a scholarship fund, and the company also helps the Striders with their events. None of those events pay prize lists.

Several of the posters and others that emailed directly, commented about women and weight. Clearly, that is a huge issue. I know that there were women who did not compete in the race (short or long course) because of the mere presence of a weight system. Weight disorders are a huge problem with elite runners (male and female) and other endurance athletes.

Several people have asked me if I would go back to Herc if the format was changed. Maybe, but that depends on a lot of things. Running in Vermont is a huge attraction, so I can’t say no without learning more. I’m curious how things pan out and at some point, hope to see or hear a formal response from the organizers. I noticed film crews at the event. Maybe a promotional video was being made. Let’s hope that it includes a segment about the prize list and doesn’t gloss over the big issues. I think a podium shot of 12 smiling guys, holding those giant cardboard checks while standing on scales, would make for a great image.

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@trailrunningmom received a nice memento in the mail. #hr100 #hardrock100 #trailrunning #ultrarunning Awesome Day 2 at the @the_ccap #Cyclocross Camp. #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #horstspikes #crossspikes #googinscross #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming 🚴🏽 Great ride with Tom. #teamhorstsports #madeinusa 🇺🇸 Day one of the @the_ccap Junior #Cyclocross Camp was awesome. #horstspikes #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming @trailrunningmom led another successful #Yoga at #Sunset for the #boltonlandtrust This year's venue was the #BoltonHeritageFarm It's been a tradition to move to a new spot each time. I got my first #cyclocross ride of the year in too! #yogini #yogi #shavasana Sightseeing on my second favorite road in #Connecticut #grassyhill #cycling #bicycle #sevencycles #horstengineering Camp was swell! @thecubscouts @boyscoutsofamerica #cubscouts #boyscouts #junenorcrosswebster I visited the new HQ of the @appalachianmountainclub that is under construction at 10 City Square in #Charlestown I had to ride by the #BunkerHill Monument at the end of the #FreedomTrail #Boston #sevencycles First time at the People's Forest Trail Race since 2011. This first image is the look of a dejected man who lost 25 minutes with a wrong turn on a big descent. That's costly in an 11 kilometer race. Even worse is that @trailrunningmom is the one who led him (and two other runners) off course! They survived. It was a nice day on the #FarmingtonRiver. #trailrunning #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders 🏃🏻⛰🏆

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