I received the note below from a self-proclaimed guiltless poacher. You can read my response below his original note. The only items I edited from our exchange were his name and some specifics about his current and past home towns. I did that so he could be the one to decide if he wants to complete “the camera test”. Everything else is direct copy and paste.
Should he be vindicated?
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 12:55 PM
Subject: Poaching ...
Nice to meet you, and read your bio. I recently read your piece on Liars, Cheaters and Thieves Pt I and II ... Perhaps I need more clarification, a correction or to be annihilated with my reason. But, preferably, I would like to seek vindication, given my perverse rationale.
Clearly you have done your homework, seeking the counsel of professionals in their respective fields. However, one of my relatives was a Psychiatrist, well educated, good person sort of, and boy, perhaps she did a number on me...
I don't know where to begin but to say I am an Ironman and participate in lots and lots of events each year. Do I deserve an ObamaCare Tax Credit for good health? Don't get me started on that cost.
Some races I do are for good causes, some races I do are for no good causes but a good time.
As a coach, I hope you are aware of the periodization training table, prioritizing races in A, B, and C categories. Further, I see your favorite races you like are mostly in Colorado. I live around a big Midwest city, one of the largest cities in the country, with the worst predictable weather on earth. Just last month the most well respected man in weather predicted 1-2" of snow... Any guesses on the total? ... 8" fell, are you kidding me? I plan for 1" and they give me 8"?
Colorado cannot possibly sellout an event as quickly as my city, given the weather and shear population, no way. Can you get me in the largest triathlon in the world a week before the event, legally, ethically and depending on the weather or my mood? Either way it's a C race, not an A race like Ironman. Then, can you promise me a refund if it doesn't meet my requirements? Certainly the cost isn't cheap.
I pay $1000's a year in entry fees, all over everywhere. I have run 13.1 in monsoon rain, I have run 26.2 in 87 degree heat. I have swum miles and miles in 2 foot chop with 20 mph blowing winds. I pay my USAT dues every year. But darn it, if a friend of mine registers for a run beneath me, say a 8K, and I prefer to go with him under the most ideal circumstances, say; 1) Am I in training or not? 2) Did I have too much to drink the night before? 3) Did the event sell out? 4) Do I need sleep? 5) What about the weather? 6) What cost will this event set back my retirement plans? 7) Did my boss fire me for living, breathing, sleeping TRI?
Forgive me Gale, for I have sinned...
I poached the Shammie Shuffle 2010. And it was brrrrr, cold. But I paid $20 to park for 2 hours. Come on, I live in the home state of political corruption! I used a chip of a 9 year old who went to baseball practice instead. My Lady Friend would have registered, but the event was sold out and we couldn't coordinate the event in advance given her hectic work schedule. Anyway, she ran next to her friend who did register. Where is my weather refund or credit if I don't use the goods and services provided?
I bike so many miles each year I have no idea what goes on in my back yard. One Saturday I came across a group on a 3 day ride, biking through my town. I asked a police officer directing traffic through a farm community what's up with it, he first asked if I was serious, then told me the details. Bikers are great, we talk as we ride, and this particular year I was training for my first Ironman. Thanks to them, I was able to get nearly 90 miles in instead of 40 that was planned. They were happy for me and I didn't lie cheat or steal from them. Did I poach this, or did I meet a friend? (I took 3 gels, a banana, and topped off my fluids, $4.50 max cost) This was a USAT event they payed $100's for, and I pay my dues. Also, I don't really need another goodie bag full of junk I don't need, or a shirt I don't like, or 50 advertisements, if I opt out, what can I save!?
Then, one time, I skipped a Triathlon I paid $96 for. The weather was 56 degrees at the start, foggy, windy and dangerous. The water was 57 degrees. The bike course was soaking wet. This might be ideal midwest conditions, and I would gladly partake, however, I had an Ironman a few weeks in the near future. Where is my credit? If I travel more than 200 miles to any event, it is no less than a $600 weekend. Why shouldn't I get a refund? Why can't a race be postponed? Why can't honest hard working people get a break? Why can't I poach the Shammie Shuffle since none of the runners are really runners and just wanting a drink at 10AM?
As you can probably tell, I don't have much guilt ... I guess my ego is still too big.
All the best,
PS. Perhaps I need a sports physiologist, any recommendations?
First, you have a well-written story and I do understand your view. I have heard it all before. And, I feel some of your pain in the weather department. (Did a 100-mile mountain bike race at altitude (cold, cold, cold) where NO rain was predicted for race day. I rode roughly 6 of 10 hours in rain. Miserable at the time. Now an epic story.) And yes, Colorado events sell out quickly.
You see, an event director does not promise you great weather, that you'll feel good, that you won't have equipment troubles or anything much more than they will host an event on a given course on a given day. They ask that you pay for the privilege of doing this event on this day with all of these other people and with the safety and medical services readily available. The time, and loss of family time, that they put into organizing this event is how they make their living. They too pay USAT, so the fact that you pay fees to USAT does not make them feel like giving you a complimentary entry to their event. Also, the fact that you skipped someone else's event (after paying for it) doesn't make them want to give you a comp entry to their event. The race director of the poached event has a tough time paying the mortgage or feeding his/her family with poacher's fees (or lack thereof).
Speaking of costs, we all have chosen to "play" in sports such as triathlon, mountain biking (in my case) and other such follies. The equipment, races, coaching advice, etc. all cost something that we've decided is worth the cost. (Or at least some people have decided these things are worth the cost.) It seems that other people have decided that anything sport or recreation related should be ultra-cheap or free. I happen to disagree. I think that the people wanting to make a 5k run free should run that 5k anywhere other than the race course. People that plan to run, ride or swim an event on event day should pay for it. If these people didn't get entry, for whatever reason, too bad. (I know, kinda harsh, but so it goes.)
Now, I would like to see a way to transfer entries for people that can't do an event after registering - but - apparently this can be a nightmare for race directors, so some choose not to do it. (Actually, I think there could be a business just insuring or transferring race entries, but I digress.)
The real question is...Could you go on camera for the nightly news and tell your friends, family, business associates and neighbors what you did (the real story not a made-up one), why you did it - and be proud of yourself?
If you can do the camera test, I think your actions and behaviors are probably fine.
Thanks for reading ~