My Thoughts on IM Kona

September and October are a great time of year for the tri geeks of the Universe. 70.3 Worlds held in a beautiful setting in Europe. ITU Worlds held in the iconic city of Chicago. And to top it off the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Every year at this time Kona becomes Triathlon Mecca. But for those of us that can’t make it to the IM Championships we are left with the online broadcast of the race. This race coverage has really improved over the past few years. As the sport grows and there are calls for more money from the pro triathletes the focus of Kona becomes even more important as the Super Bowl of our sport. For most of us that are stuck within the tri bubble we can understand a lot of the things that happen on the Kona broadcast. For a possible non-endemic sponsor from the outside looking in what would they think? First, the good: 1-the race is broadcast. We must start here. I had the race on the TV the entire day. You read that right. The entire day. 2-Quarq race site-This was a pleasant surprise for me. If I wanted to see how close racers were to each other this was the place to do it. I am hoping they do more and more with this site with each year. Great stuff from Quarq. 3-The coverage of the race at times is very good. As are the commentators. And now…the bad: 1-The swim: The ITU broadcast has a boat with a camera guy holding a long selfie stick( I don’t know what the real name of this equipment is but you get the idea) with a camera attached to the end to get the pointy end of the race. There are multiple camera angles while the athletes get into the scrum around the buoy. There are replays of important or cool angles that happen. Why hasn’t WTC/NBC done the same? The coverage was better this year with Matt Lieto out on a boat trying to figure out who was who while they were in the water. This needs to get better. There should be split screens with the men’s and women’s race. Why do have to pick one over the other? But more on that later. We also need live split timing comparing the second pack of swimmers to the front pack. And the third pack compared to the second pack. And the time differences when the athletes exit the water. Just like the ITU races. When most of the racers are out of the water but some key players are getting out(think Lionel Sanders, Matt Hanson, Angela Naeth, Rinny Carfrae, Sarah Piampiano and the like) I would like an on screen update of their time back from other racers at the bottom of the screen in the form of a ticker. Just like the stock market. 2-The bike: A long time for a viewer to stay engaged on what is going on. So throw in some filler of interviews with athletes or sponsors, commercials or what is happening out on the course. But always show the race! Why does it have to be one or the other? This is another place where split screens of the mens and womens race can be done. Or the front end of the mens race with the second pack of the mens race. The possibilities are endless. Why do we get stuck with only one view for such a long period of time? 3-The run: Split screen. Does anyone else see a pattern in my commentary? Why can’t we have a split screen of the mens and womens race? Or four screens of the different runners out on course with live splits on each screen? 4-General: Leaderboard on screen. Show the Quarq map with amount of time between packs/racers a la the ITU  with commentators out on course every now and again. Show Rinny dropping out. Swallow dropping out. Sticksy dropping out. We want drama. Look around at the coverage in the other main sports. How about interviews with coaches about their athletes like the NBA does during time outs or MLB does between innings? You can tape them and do a quick edit just like they do. We crave more info. Better info. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Look around at what other sports are doing to create a bigger audience. No more promos about that college WTC is promoting. Enough. Stop it. We get it. In terms of increasing the advertising during the broadcast, put a logo and web page in the corner of the screen as another way for sponsors to get additional eyeball time. 5-The commentators: Generally these guys are pretty good. And their knowledge of history of the sport is better than most unless your name is Bob Babbitt. Going back to one of my first point about non-endemic sponsorships in the sport-what must they think? Does anyone else see this as a problem? Here are the bullet points:

  • Compare the Kona commentators to the commentators of the major sports. Increased scrutiny leading to better commentators is what we should strive for in the long term.
  • Doing interviews with athletes while the top 5-10 men and women are crossing the finish line is a huge no-no.
  • We need more coverage of the age group race. Especially at the finish line. We are selfish people. We want to see the regular guys finish to know that finishing this race is not only left to the genetic freaks of the world. That us regular guys have a shot on the Big Island.
  • Why do we need to watch the commentators with the race going on? Cutting to them every now and again is fine. Watching Welchy and Lovato for any extended period of time made me think of turning the channel. Or hitting the mute button. Which I did.
  • Lastly, Welch needs to stop telling athletes what to do on course. I think Daniela Ryf has a pretty good idea what she is doing out there on course. Not only is she a smart experienced racer but has one of the best coaches in tri behind her in Brett Sutton.

Yes, the complaints outweigh my positive notes on the broadcast. I love this sport. I want to see it succeed to its highest levels. Only 351 days until we get to do this all again! #IMKona #triathlon #WTC

Copyright © 2016 Todd Larlee