[written 6th May 2016]
I found out that I was pregnant a while ago, but decided not to cancel all of my race entries immediately, in case something went wrong. However, Ironman has strict deadlines relating to withdrawing from races and refunds. In order to receive a 50% refund (the maximum possible), I had to withdraw from Ironman Weymouth 70.3 at least 4 months before the race date.
So, this week, I finally submitted my withdrawal request.
I really wanted to take part in this event, but I know that it’s not a sensible option at nearly 8 months pregnant. I also know that there are many women who would be grateful to be in my position, but when you have set your heart on taking part in something, it’s hard to have to give it up.
One thing that really frustrates me is that very few events have any kind of cancellation insurance. (Well done to Long Course Weekend who allow you to pay £10 insurance, which will then allow you to receive a full refund).
Ironman have said that they are actively trying to increase female participation in their events, but as the majority of women who take part in their events are child-bearing age, this really isn’t a measure that supports female participation.
Most Ironman-branded 70.3s cost upwards of £200 with a full-distance event costing £450+. As the events are so popular, many sell-out very quickly, so you have to make a decision about whether or not you want to take part up to 12 months in advance. Also, some races have early entry fees, which encourages people to sign up quickly. Whilst some could argue that family planning should play a part in choosing the events you want to race, fertility is unpredictable and this attitude may mean that some women stop entering events for several years.
On the withdrawal form there was a comments box, so I wrote my reasons for withdrawal and stated that I thought that insurance should be available for circumstances such as this (or injury). I was surprised to receive a personal email back from Ironman Europe:
I really do hope that they genuinely are looking into this issue and that it doesn’t take too long for a solution to be put in place.
My experience with Ironman is a direct contrast to my experience with Prudential RideLondon, which gives participants the chance to defer their entry up to 24 hours before the start date. I’ve now withdrawn from that event too, but am hoping that I can take part next year.
What do you think about this issue? Does the availability of insurance factor into your decisions when choosing whether or not to enter an expensive race?