For the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about doing a self-supported 140.6 mile race event in 2014. Unfortunately for The Missus, I’ve been talking about it too.

A lot.

First things first–why do a self-supported event instead of an official race?

There are quite a few reasons. The biggest reason is just a matter of convenience. The costs and logistics of traveling to a race I have no hope of winning are hard to justify. I’d also have to tow four other people along with me, and they probably would rather do other things than sit around all day waiting to see if I survive.

There are a few races that are within a reasonable distance like the Great Floridian and HITS Naples that are doable, but anything the WTC puts on is off the table. Actually, WTC is off the table anyway, just because they are so cost prohibitive. Seriously, why pay hundreds of dollars a year in advance for some race nutrition and hydration (and a t-shirt, backpack, medal, etc)?

Ok, fair enough. The WTC perks are pretty nice. And you get to hear, “[Your name here]…you are an Ironman!” announced by Mike Reilly. I get the draw there. Really…I do get it, and it’s valid. And maybe one day I’ll be in a situation where this makes sense.

But my current situation is that I don’t really care about the medal or the t-shirt or whether or not WTC considers me to be an”Ironman”.

I just want to do it.

And doesn’t it make sense to take all that money I’d spend on an entry fee and put it towards a good cause instead? Maybe even use the event as a way to raise even more money for a good cause?

Yeah…that sounds better to me.

That’s crazy talk–where do you get the idea to do something like this?

I know this can be done and be a great event, because Coach Brett does it with the Iron Baby every year. Cruise over to his place and check out. It’s an amazing story, and he’s a true guru of self-supported racing. He’s done 9 Iron Baby events already, and he’s a great resource for information on what it takes and ideas.

I’ve also been inspired by some other events I’ve done (or missed out on) locally over the past year. There are the Bridge to Bridge and John R. Mathers swims organized by Rob Downey (events, not races) and the Wickham Park Ultra Marathon (event, not a race) Matt Mahoney organizes going on just a few miles from my house. These are yearly events with great participation. And they don’t need medals or official timing chips to make them great.

In fact, I’d argue that the absence of all the frills is one of the things that makes them great.

I could go on and on about the beauty of self-supported and non-sanctioned events, and I probably will in subsequent posts. There are lots of other things I’m going to have to figure out and plan over the next year as well, and I plan to document these activities as a go. Just a few of the things that will be covered:

  • Event Date – I’m thinking some time in November
  • Race Course – Will need a few different options I think
  • Sponsors?
  • What charity to support — that one is easy
  • Aid station placement and manning
  • Prizes?
  • Publicity and fundraising

I’m really looking forward to this adventure, both as a (it’s not a) race director, as a participant, and as a guy trying to tackle this distance for the first time. Stay posted for more information!