My Conversation with Mr. Messick

I had the craziest dream last night.

I dreamed that I am not really a mediocre triathlete. I’m actually pretty awesome. I’m a card-carrying pro. I win races. I win Ironman races. I dreamed that I wanted to compete in last year’s Ironman Championships at Kona. I tried to enter the race, but I was told that I wasn’t invited.  It was explained to me by Andrew Messick, CEO of World Triathlon Corporation.  Here’s my conversation with Mr. Messick:

LP: Hello, Mr. Messick! Can you spare a few moments for me?

AM: Of course! Come on in and pull up a chair. What can I do for you?

LP: Well, I’d like to race in the championship at Kona. As you can see, I have a formidable resume. I won 5000 Kona points in four races.

AM: Well. That’s impressive. Looks like you had a good season. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to say no.

LP: No? Why is that?

AM: Well, your total of 5000 points gives you a rank of 36 among the female pros.

LP: And?

AM: And we only invite 35 female pros.

LP: How many male pros do you invite?

AM: Why, 50 of course.

LP: Oh, okay. Well, the male pro who was ranked 50th only had 3915 points.

AM: What’s your point? No pun intended. Hee hee.

LP: I think it’s that I won more Kona points than he did. It means that within my gender, I was a more successful triathlete than he was within his gender.

AM: Yes.

LP: But he gets a spot on the pier and I don’t.

AM: It would seem that way.

LP: Okay. I am trying to understand this. You invite 50 male pros, but only 35 female pros. In years past, you invited 45 males and 30 females. It feels arbitrary.

AM: Yes.

LP: Is it arbitrary?

AM: Well it was, but then we figured out a way to make it look like it isn’t. There is a saying, “Sometimes statistics is like a lamppost. Sometimes you use it for illumination. Other times, like when you’re really drunk, you use it for support. You know, you lean on it.” Get it? I think that’s how the saying goes. Anyway, this whole #5Q thing had me feeling a little tipsy, so I came up with proportionality.

LP: Proportionality?

AM: YES!! You’ve heard of it?

LP: Illuminate me.

AM: HA HA HA! Pun intended! I get it! Anyway, there is a higher proportion of men who participate in our races than women. Therefore, proportionality.

LP: Are you talking about pros or age groupers?

AM: Yes.

LP: Which one?

AM: Pros?

LP: Okay, so because some female triathlete decided not to take her pro card, I can’t have a spot at Kona. Do you know her name? Maybe I can talk to her and change her mind.

AM: No, let’s not do that. The last thing I would ever want is another pro triathlete. Besides, there are soooo many more male age groupers than female age groupers.

LP: I thought you said it was about the pro proportionality.

AM: Right! I did?

LP: I am a professional triathlete trying to make a living at this sport. I love age groupers, but what do they have to do with me?

AM: Look. There’s not much I can do. There’s no room on the pier. It would take away spots from other participants. It would decrease the quality of the field. I ran out of gas. I had a flat tire. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake!  A terrible flood! LOCUSTS!!!!

LP: Are you quoting from Blues Brothers?

AM: Great movie, right? Anyhoo, I’m just about out of time. I have some more soul crushing on my schedule, then lunch, and then yoga. Great chat.

And then I woke up.

(this was originally published on Laura’s blog)

About the Author

Laura Pyott is from suburban Philadelphia. She is an age-group triathlete, a Delmo Sports Ambassador (for the free races), a college professor (for the free tuition), and a Division III women’s college basketball assistant coach (for the swag). She writes a blog called The Mediocre Triathlete, mostly because she is one. She enjoys cream-filled donuts. Visit her blog at, or @collprof on Twitter.