Last week when checking race dates for 2011 I was made aware that The World Triathlon Organization had scheduled The Ironman World Championships on Yom Kippur, October 8,2011.
For those of you unaware of the status of this holiday to the Jewish Nation, you should know this is by far the Holiest Time of the Year for Jews World Wide. This is the day of atonement, the day Jews around the world bring their sins to G-d. For Catholic’s this is equivalent to Lent, making a sacrifice for 40 days through the day of Resurrection. For many other other faiths, you might consider it being asked to schedule a race on any Holy Day that mandates sacrificing time to your belief. In fact all practicing Jews are required to fast for 25 hours on this day. Making fueling just a bit dangerous.
I sent WTC a request to find out their feeling on this gross oversight. This is how the email conversation transpired. Athlete Services Coordinator Evan Brown answered my question of how this oversight could happen with these words.
“Thank you for your e-mail and interest in the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championship. We are aware that next year’s event coincides with Yom Kippur. Despite this conflict, we are committed to maintaining its original date of October 8th, 2011. ” Evan went on to explain that Kailua Pier need to be closed the entire event week due to safety issues and event happenings. This I understand.
Evan continued by saying; “We realize how difficult the decision between the dream of competing in Kona and the observance of such an important religious holiday will be for our athletes. As hard as it is, we aren’t able to accommodate the needs of each and every athlete without jeopardizing the entire event.
I responded to Evan I understood and would inform my Jewish team mates and Jewish triathletes friends that Ironman is leaving the choice up to them; Follow your faith or race!
Evan again responded and explain, “The date was chosen in 2006 and he could assure me all considerations were taken into account.” I think Google may have been around then? A simple search for Yom Kippur dates turns up the actual dates for any year.
Hmm, so what went on at that meeting. Oh, Yom Kippur is on the proposed race date for 2008? What do we do? Whats our Jewish particpant level? Pretty minimal. Okay move ahead.
I’m not out to start a religious debate with WTC and I’m not hurling anti-semitic accusations against WTC. I’m just thinking this is another insensitive lack of fore thought and decision on their part. Need I mention the recent Access Program. I even suggested a reasonable solution to offer Jewish Triathletes that qualify for the 2011 race an option to carry that over to 2012. This was met with a resounding no can do as well.
So I’m left with a sinking feeling that the sport of triathlon that started at the grass roots level to give everyman a unique physical and mental challenge has tossed that feeling by the wayside. It seems WTC has turned Ironman into a cash cow with cash concerns only As a businessman I get that too.
What I don’t get is WTC’s refusal to make allowances for Jewish Triathletes that qualify this year to use that qualification in 2012. Would that really be such a difficult thing to do? Maybe it would work for WTC if all Jewish Ironman participants paid a special High Holiday $1000 fee, this would allow them to carry over their 2011 qualification to 2012, and get the a nice membership card and subscription to Lava Magazine.
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