Should race organisers provide refunds for cancelled races?

“If you’re going to urinate on me, at least have the decency to pretend it’s not raining.” I’ve paraphrased to lessen the crudity, but it’s still a response that leaves no room for doubt over the mood of one triathlete towards Ironman over the contentious issue of race refunds.

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It’s a highly emotive subject and one this column chose to duck during the early throes of the Covid-19 outbreak as tri’s prognosis for 2020 blurred, and hasn’t enjoyed much clarity since. But what now sticks firmly in the spokes is the curious, surely misguided, assertion from Ironman chief executive Andrew Messick in a New York Times article that most athletes he heard from “were not interested in getting money back” from postponed races, which informed Ironman’s decision to not offer refunds.

Perhaps Messick needs to broaden his polling beyond Ironman investors, because this line is likely to raise hackles as much as it raises eyebrows. It’s not that triathletes do not want their money back for cancelled events – in a Twitter poll by Brick Session podcaster Mark Livesey over two-thirds would prefer a refund to deferring – but that the majority understand why it’s not always economically viable.