Hawaii Ironman Prize Money

Winners of this year's Hawaii Ironman will enjoy their first pay rise in many years, but those outside the top ten will still go begging.

The Hawaii champion's prize purse increases to us$70,000 this year, with an additional sweetener in the form of a us$30,000 Isuzu Rodeo, handed over by the race sponsor to the men's and women's winners. These extras bring the total value of the champion's prize purse to over us$100k. Whilst triathlon still lags behind more high profile sports in the remuneration package it offers, the rewards now meted out in Kona, when added to sponsorships and other outside work, could see the very top elite athletes earning close to half a million dollars this year.

In line with the increases for the winners, the total prize purse for the race increases to us$325,000, making Hawaii comfortably the biggest pay day in the multisport. The new total easily eclipses the us$200k that was previously offered at the Zofingen Duathlon. Until recent changes in sponsorship drastically cut the prize purse in Zofingen, the European race was Hawaii's closest challenger in the money stakes.

On a more surprising note, the prize money for Kona still only runs 10 deep. That means a huge pay day for those who hit the mark in Kona is offset by a 'no-pay-day' for those further back. Making a buck in Kona is a tough job for even the best athletes around. Just ask Melissa Spooner, winner of Ironman New Zealand in 1999, who placed 11th in Hawaii last year, or Lena Wahlqvist, Ironman Lanzarote champion, but only 17th in Hawaii. They both left Kona poorer than when they arrived.

The elite men's field is just as deep. Andreas Niedrig scored two hard-won third places in New Zealand and Roth, but finished outside the prize money in Hawaii in 14th. Ironman Brazil champion Ken Glah was two places further behind, with Ironman Lanzarote runner-up Anssi Lehtinen just sneaking into the top 20.

In further evidence of the commercial attractiveness of the race, the Hawaii NBC broadcast of the '99 race once again featured heavily in the Sport Emmy nominations. The NBC coverage of Kona enjoys a love-hate relationship with most hard core triathletes. Whilst the polish and professionalism of the top-notch production team are appreciated, the 'human-interest' angle of the race is often given more exposure in the two hour broadcast than the elite race.

The NBC Ironman broadcast is to be re-aired in the US on July 29th 2000 from 2-4pm.


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