I just received my annual Triathlon Queensland membership renewal notice today. While I thought (from the organisation’s website) that membership would be due after 1 July 2012, I have now learned that if it isn’t paid by 30 June 2012 it will lapse. Membership renewals don’t open until 9am tomorrow, 27 June 2012 so this is a small window of opportunity to renew memberships. Particularly for those of us racing on Sunday, 1 July 2012.
But the nastiest shock came with the increase in membership fees. They are now $200 per year, up from $160 per year. That’s a $40 or 25% increase. The only explanation offered is that Queensland is moving into line with the other Australian states and territories. That money only buys us race insurance; nothing else. We are still paying between $80 and $200 to actually enter races up to Olympic Distance, and much more for long distance and M-dot races.
So is triathlon becoming an elitist sport? Are the costs going to outstrip the ability of the average person to participate? The fee increase and manner in which the renewal notice has been sent has caused me to go back to the drawing board with my season goals to decide whether I want to make my move to ultra trail running a season earlier. I just don’t have $200 lying around to spend; I already thought the $160 last season was painful.
Yes, I get a $40 discount if I continue to be an active technical official. Or at least technical officials did in the 2011/12 season but there is no mention of the discount in the renewal notice, so I’m not sure whether or not it still applies. But even with the $40 discount, the increase is still steep (from $120 – $160) and probably more than I want to spend.
I am really keen to move into ultra distance trail running. I think I have what it takes to be a back-of-the-pack 100kmer and to one day complete a 100-miler. To do this I need to enter long-distance trail events, starting with some 20-30km events, building up to a couple of 50km events and then, hopefully, a metric century. Besides, trail running events are cheaper to enter than triathlons, require less gear and have smaller crowds.
After my personal experiences walking the Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane 2011 and watching teams running it in 2012, I know it’s the sport for me. There’s something free about trail running. Maybe, instead of paying my annual triathlon licencing fees I can spend the money on a proper pair of trail running shoes so that I don’t have to keep wearing my old worn out pair of $50 joggers. While I am a barefoot runner, I think that trail shoes would be beneficial for ultra-distance events.
I can still race the odd off-road triathlon because day licences are relatively inexpensive. They are currently $10 for sprint distance races and $20 for Olympic Distance races. It actually is cheaper for me to buy a day licence for the few events I would race.
So tonight I will use my sickness-imposed down time to re-consider my 2012-13 race calendar and to identify which events I most want to participate in. There are some fun-looking MTB enduros and trail runs on offer in South East Queensland and Northern NSW …