Wednesday, December 3, 2014

5 Things I Loved About Flotracks Beer Mile World Championship

2014 Beer Mile World Champion Results
Tonight Austin Texas played host for Flotrack's 2014 Beer Mile World Championships. For those
that are unaware a beer mile is a race in which consists of drinking a beer, running a quarter mile, and then repeating it three more times. In the end you drink four beers and run one mile. Tonight, Corey Gallagher chugged his final beer in 8 seconds and then ran a closing 61 second final quarter mile for a total time 5:00:23 earning him title as 2014 Beer Mile World Champion and putting $2,500 into his pocket. It was rather impressive and I felt compelled to write about it so here are some brief thoughts.

First, I will say that truthfully I love everything about the event and there were so many different lessons to learn in some many different disparate areas of life. I won't touch on all of them but here are a couple.

1) Putting an event on the map - Put $10,000 up for grabs, call it a World Championship, and livestream it with acceptable quality and you have a chance to get off the ground. It helps to have exciting and unique event but this should be a lesson for all race directors out there or anyone in marketing/sales. The stakes don't need to be high, but adding some stakes generates more interest. Advertise the stakes, talk about them during the race, present a big check, acknowledge the performances and you will make it bigger deal than it was without doing those things.

2014 Kona Beer Mile Champion AJ Baucco
2) Takings Chances. I love that Under Armour took a chance. Most people never really give thought to how challenging it can be to be public figure/brand/organization but it is hard. You are never going to make everyone happy so when it comes to throwing money at something you have to be sure it doesn't backfire. I'm not sure if Nike just doesn't want to get involved at this point or maybe the stakes are just too small, but Under Armour took a chance and it looks like they signed a last minute deal. I loved that the company was nimble enough to recognize and bet on Corey Gallagher. As an athlete I know how important every supporter is no matter how big or small. I would like to thank my own apparel sponsor 2XU for taking a chance on me and I'm sure they would have been more than happy to have me represent the brand at this event.

3) Supporting the love of the game - It gives us yet another sport outside of the four big sports. Personally, I gave up on big sports over a decade ago and I prefer to support smaller sports - sports where athletes don't sign $200,000,000 deals. Athletes don't get started in sports for the money, they get involved for the love of the game, but somewhere along that journey many athletes get corrupted and lose sight of why they are really competing. I still want to support athletes, just not the athletes making $200,000,000 and that care more about money then the love of the game.

4) Cut the cord - Truthfully I thought the major cable operators would have been dead by now but some how they have survived. Most people cite there reason for not axing their subscription because of the lack of alternatives to live sports. The more options we have to watch live sports online the more opportunities people have to cut the cord.

5) Introducing new people to goals and sports. Maybe there is someone who is just a beer drinker, maybe even an alcoholic, and tonight they were captivated by the event. Maybe it converts one non-exercising beer drinker, into a beer-drinking exerciser and that is a good thing. If the beer mile gets even one person off the couch who otherwise wouldn't have, then it is a success in my eyes. People need to be motivated, people need to be challenged. I don't really care what people are trying to accomplish as long they work hard at it, set goals, and have plan for achieving them.

Predictions: Assuming there are no legal hurdles, the beer mile will continue to grow in popularity. My guess is it will explode exponentially in the next couple of years. Although I said I would never do one, my tune is changing. After watching the beer mile in person at Kona for the Ironman World Championships, I can say with 100% confidence that there is another beer mile spectation in my future.

Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 Ironman World Championship Spectating and Why Pros Matter

For those that have never been to the Big Island, it is not really something that can be understood just by hearing stories or watching it on TV - you have to be here. I don't care if you are the World Champion at a different distance or done a 100 other triathlons, Kona is special and it is not something I can really explain - it is something that has to be experienced and preferably by crossing that line. I competed in this race in 2010 as an amateur and in 2013 as a professional, but I hope that watching the 2014 Ironman World Championship will give me a different perspective on my fellow competitors racing on our sport's biggest day.

Although my own perspective might be unique, I hope that it is not. You see I love this sport. I love most everything about it. I love the lifestyle that comes with it, I love the hard work and discipline that is required to be successful. To be truthful, I am still enamored by my fellow professionals out there competing and I can't tell you the last time I was excited about watching a professional sport outside of triathlon. I often hear that triathlon is too boring to watch, that it is too long to spectate, and that it is in general, just not spectator friendly. Maybe those critics are right, and maybe I will be one of them after Saturday's event, but the beauty of Ironman is that it is a very long day and anything can happen.

Anyone that says they can pick the winner doesn't really truly understand the state of triathlon today. There are so many factors that come into play on race day. There are specific strengths and weaknesses of the athletes, tactics, conditions, nutrition, and a host of other external factors that all come into play. I could see five different winners based on five different scenarios and although I can try to pick winners and losers based on a particular scenario, I have to deal with both the odds of the scenario and then those racers within the scenario itself. But less I try... Give me Marino "Bink" Vanhoenacker and Daniela Ryf.

Although picking the winners is a gamble, one thing is certain - every professional athlete toeing the line on Saturday is extremely talented, well-trained, and dedicated. Talent is not just limited to physical attributes either and I know that the likes of Andrew Starkowicz, TJ Tollakson, Maik Twelsiak, Jan Frodeno, Craig Alexander, Pete Jacobs, Bart Aeronauts, Faris Al-Sultan, Sebastien Kienle, Andy Potts, Marino Vanhoenacker, Rachel Joyce, Mirinda Carfrae, Caroline Steffen, Daniel Ryf, Meredith Kessler, Gina Crawford, and Amanda Stevens will all influence the race, but more importantly put on a great show.

Outside of the professional race, I am excited to spectate friends as well. I am excited to cheer on all the amateurs who manage to balance work and family with all the blood, sweat and tears, that come with being some of the fittest endurance athletes on the plant. I am looking forward to watching a phenom amateur - a guy who doesn't know how good he actually is. His name is James Burke. I am excited to see how former speed-skater and Olympian Apollo Ono does. I want to see how his hard work from speed skating translates to Ironman racing and I am curious what he thinks of Ironman and the experience. I have already had a good time catching up with friends & sponsors, and other people in the industry and there is more to come. I am happy to thank all the volunteers who help out to make this great event possible. And lastly, I genuinely just enjoy being on the island and spending time with Paul and Katie Burke who are kind enough to invite me into their home.

Despite all the other reasons, the main event is still the pro athletes for me - it is why I am going to The Big Island. Nobody talks about the weather this week, it is always about who will win this race. As I said before, I am enamored of my peers. I know how hard each has worked to get there. The hours, the blood sweat and tears, the sacrifices made. Maybe I am just a super fan. I will say at one time the only thing I knew about Triathlon was Ironman - specifically the one they showed on TV with the great stories and the recap. It is the same show that highlights the sport to many other Americans who know nothing about triathlon or Ironman for that matter. It is the show that makes your co-workers, friends, family, boss, and customers think the same thing about you - "you sir are a badass." It is the race that put triathlon on the map, and I am thankful because this is a such wonderful sport.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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