I got an email last night titled 'Team USA Sardinia Slot Awarded' and I almost deleted it because it sounded like spam. In the end I threw caution to the wind and clicked on it and it turns out I qualified for another World Championship in addition to Xterra Worlds in Maui. This one is the ITU Off Road World Championships being held in May in Sardinia, Italy and I would be representing USAT's Team USA. Which is all a lot of confusing alphabet soup even to me and it's the first I've ever heard of this race. All these world championships sound like a marketing scam. But racing at a world championship in Italy sounds super fun, way more fun than racing in icky sticky Maui. Except for the part of having to deal with USAT which is the main triathlon cartel, er, sanctioning body in the U.S. whose sole purpose seems to be to separate me from my money. Already in the email they want a non-refundable $50 fee by Jan. 25th for me to reserve my spot on Team USA. A fee that does not count towards my entry fee, it only reserves my spot on the team. Entry fees are '$150-$400 depending on the race' which is interesting because ITU charged 85 euros (about $100 at current exchange rate) for entry last year, a nice profit for USAT. Then they require me to spend $200 on their dorky team uniform which I would never in a million years wear anywhere else. Then there's a 'user fee' that is 'subject to be changed each season based on the event's location'. Who knows what the final cost is just to enter the event never mind all the expenses?
Speaking of which, USAT also has a 'special' hotel package for athletes that runs $150-$250 per person per day because, you know, Europe is super expensive. You're not required to take their package but athletes who book their own hotel 'do so at the expense of lost team camaraderie'. I guess USAT team camaraderie is also super expensive because I'm pretty sure I can find a hotel room in Italy for less than $300-$500 a day for Jonny and me. No idea what the entry fee is to this race or what the course is like, none of that info. has been announced yet. Then there's a rental car, gas, food, and whatever other expenses USAT will dream up to nickel and dime me. All of a sudden this in not looking so appealing.
But then again neither does the $475 entry fee for Xterra Worlds and the also super expensive hotels in Maui never mind the plane fare for either trip. I'm not sure my desire to race at a World Championships equals the substantial hit I'll take to my pocket book either way. Jonny and I could take a lot of nice short biking trips around Colorado this summer for a fraction of the cost and hassle. When it comes to validation vs experience, experience wins every time. But I think I'll keep the goal of being good enough to qualify and go. In the meantime USAT can extract their pound of flesh from someone else.