Brand vs. Distance

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Congratulations to the many finishers of all the races over the past weekend. I am always so excited to see new people tackling new challenges and higher distances in the sport of their choice. Whether triathlon, running, cycling or obstacle racing…to keep moving on and doing different and bigger things is always a win for us as athletes.

However, I do have a pretty sore subject I would like to address. You can start the hate mail now: please note that a 70.3 is NOT an Ironman. An Ironman is 140.6. To be more specific, it is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Ironman has now turned into a brand and has put their logo on a variety of distances, not just the full 140.6. When you finish a half ironman, you are just that – a half ironman. It doesn’t matter that it is an “Ironman 70.3” event – it is a HALF.

Let’s tackle this in another sport: Running. When you run 13.1 miles, do you call yourself a “marathoner?” I sure hope not. A marathon is 26.2 miles, therefore making your 13.1 miles a half marathon. Since “Ironman” is a brand, by them calling it “Ironman 70.3” is just a marketing ploy to get people excited about thinking they can call themselves an Ironman by only completing half of what a real Ironman distance is. For those races that are not “Ironman” branded, they are called “Iron distance” events and still boast the same 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.

We can look at this in just about any capacity; I would like to earn the “Bachelor’s Degree – Associate’s Degree” and only spend two years in school to achieve it. Is someone who is in ROTC considered now a Marine?


I wrote an article like this back in 2008 when some company (I can’t remember who) started marketing their event as the “13.1 Marathon.” WHAT?? The “Half Marathon Marathon?” That’s exactly what an Ironman 70.3 is. Ironman 70.3 = Ironman Half Ironman. It just doesn’t make any sense, unless you are in marketing and realize that you will get a lot of interest when the marathon title now comes with half the distance and half the work.

It’s a respect issue. Once you have done a full marathon or an Ironman, maybe you’ll understand why calling yourself a marathoner after just 13.1 miles or an Ironman after just 70.3 miles just isn’t right. I am not discounting those distances. They are challenging and anyone who can complete those distances definitely deserves their props!

Now, now … don’t get too upset with me. To all of you who have completed a half marathon or a half Ironman, I applaud you. Maybe you will someday continue on to full distances in both events, and that would be great! I’d like to be called an ultramarathoner, but I have only ever run 26.2 miles at one time, and unfortunately, when they come out with the “26.2 Ultramarathon,” I don’t think I’ll be stepping up to the starting line. I’ll just wait to do the full Ultramarathon distance.

Train Right,

Coach MJ

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MJ Gasik started competing in the sport of triathlon in 2003 and has completed 12 Ironman distance races including the World Championships in Kona, HI. MJ is a USAT Certified Coach, Ironman U Certified Coach, USMS Level 4 Certified Coach and is the founder and owner of Tri Right Coaching. MJ has coached hundreds of athletes from beginners through elite to personal bests in distances from sprint through Ironman.