The Gordon Ramsay Rhubarb

Posted: October 5, 2013 in In Transition
Tags: ,

It’s my opinion that you can do just about anything at Chapters.  You can go and practice your tuba and nobody will so much as bat an eyelash in your direction, so if I can go and grab a vanilla Rooibos tea from the adjacent Starbucks and flip through some triathlon magazines for free, excellent.  Hey, it’s Friday night and I’m a free man having already dropped the child off at her fathers and Kelly is at work, so it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading.

Life is good.

Except, that what I found on the cover of the first Triathlon Magazine I grabbed was none other than – *ahem* – Gordon Ramsay?

Surely they jest.

But, no, there he was grinning smugly across the aero bars of a bike that – alone – could finance feeding a small starving country.  Apparently, unless the headline isn’t trying to deceive me, “Ramsay may be able to handle the heat of Hell’s Kitchen, but is he prepared for Kona?’  Wait, Gordon Ramsay is racing Kona?

Pardon me, but, how the fuck did that happen?

Please somebody, enlighten me.  How did this come about?  To my knowledge, there is only four ways that somebody can compete on the sacred Queen K and Ali’i Drive during the Ironman World Championship and I haven’t heard Ramsay of doing any of them.  Yes, it’s a sad day for the sport when it’s more about who you are and not how you qualified to enter the biggest race in the world of triathlon.

First and most obviously, one can compete at Kona after having qualified at another Ironman competition.  About 80 percent of the participants at the Ironman World Championship get there by qualifying at another 140.6-mile race.  Qualifying is possible at each of Ironman’s full-distance races around the world.  The number of qualifying slots at each race varies, but it’s usually somewhere between 40 and 100 slots with most Ironman races having approximately 50 slots.  Each race is divided into age groups, and qualifying slots are handed out by placement in one of those groups.  That means, of course, that someone actually has to get out there, have their ass kicked on another course and earn themselves the opportunity to do it all over again against the worlds’ finest later in the year.

Did Ramsay do that?


Apparently, he was scheduled to race in Ironman New Zealand earlier this year but had to drop out due to injury so, no chance of him qualifying as an age grouper there unless you consider ‘pussy’ an age group.


Secondly, some there’s also a chance to qualify for Kona with a strong showing at select Ironman 70.3 races.  While most 70.3 races do not have Kona slots to give away, a few do.  In total, it makes up about 10% of the Kona entries.  In 2013, the qualifying 70.3 races were:

  • Ironman 70.3 European Championships (30 slots)
  • Ironman 70.3 Auckland (30 slots)
  • Ironman 70.3 Eagleman (30 slots)
  • Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (72 slots)
  • Ironman 70.3 Japan (30 slots)
  • Ironman 70.3 St. Croix (30 slots)

That’s great but, unfortunately, ‘ol Gordo didn’t race in any of those neither.  He did race in the World’s Ironman 70.3 Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada recently though.  Now how that  fucking happened is also anybody’s guess but, given his finishing time of 6:38:36, it’s doubtful that he qualified for Kona there either – even with the roll down.

The mystery intensifies.

Another way to qualify for Kona is through the Ironman lottery system, which saves 200 entries, about 10%, for aspiring triathletes.  Of those, 100 go to legacy lottery winners. Now, it just isn’t that simple either – no – to qualify for the Legacy lottery, an athlete has to meet all four of these requirements:

  • Has never raced in Kona (nope)
  • Has completed at least 12 full-distance Ironman races (yeah…no)
  • Has completed an Ironman race in each of the last two years (umm, nope again)
  • Is registered for an Ironman race for the year they are trying to gain Kona entry (‘fraid not)

The other 100 lottery slots do not have such restrictions.

In fact, anyone can sign up for the general lottery one time per year, though an athlete who’s a member of Ironman’s Passport Club can get a second entry.  In addition, if you’ve signed up for the lottery multiple years in a row, your chances of getting selected will increase.

Okay, so maybe here’s a potential angle on how Ramsay achieved Kona as anyone selected in the lottery only has to complete an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 event within one year of Kona itself to validate their slot which he did in Vegas; however lackluster a performance.  Although, it must also be said that it’s not exactly a little known fact that the general lottery is a pretty huge longshot.

In the past, Ironman has disclosed that more than 7,000 athletes might apply for the Ironman lottery each year.  So at those odds, about 98% won’t get picked.  So unless Ramsay also happens to be the luckiest bastard on the face of the earth, I’m choosing to believe that this wasn’t the way he got to Kona either.

So that leaves the charity slots.  Hey, got money?  You’ve got a shot an at entry!  Each year, Ironman auctions off four entries on eBay with proceeds benefiting the Ironman Foundation. In the past, the entries have been gobbled up for a price tag of more than $40,000. Is this how Ramsay got in?  Surely he’s got the dough, right?  Except, nowhere can I find that this is actually the case and, believe me, I tried.  I mean, if you’re sponsoring a particular charity why wouldn’t you advertise that and instead keep it a secret?  Unless…..he just purchased a slot.  Or worse yet, he was simply “invited”.

I guess we’ll never know.

What I do know is that this whole shit show really rubs me worse than an ill-fitting wetsuit.  It’s no secret at this point that I’ve made it a life goal to qualify for Kona and I plan on doing it the old fashioned way by actually qualifying, and the odds aren’t exactly in my favor to do so.  I get that.  I also realize I’m not the only one with that particular dream.  So you can imagine my dismay at seeing Chef Ramsay on the cover of a popular triathlon magazine (not to mention the numerous videos on YouTube and other popular social media sites) already proclaiming to be an ‘Ironman’ and how excited he is to get the official ‘tattoo’.

What a farce.

Sure, he lost some weight and now advocates a healthy lifestyle but does that really earn him a chance to race with the worlds’ greatest when there are others out there busting their ass trying to accomplish the impossible?

I think not.

It’s a dark day indeed.

Hey forget all that training and competing bullshit, all I need to do now is get rich and famous – maybe host a television show or two – and before you know it, SHAZAM!  I’m in like Ramsay!

  1. Simon says:

    Completely agree….had to google this question and came across this….says everything we think…..amazing what money can buy…..let’s hope his tattoo goes septic!

  2. Completely agree; I’ve dreamed of racing at Kona since Julie Moss crossed the line. I tried to qualify in ’89 at Roth and have never let the dream go. Now hearing this I think the dreams over. IM is just a money making organisation looking for publicity #Shame

  3. It’s official, he was given a “Wildcard”. What the hell is a Wildcard?

    Oh, too bad they claimed to have gotten rid of “Wildcards” in 2010 insisting people had to earn their slots. What rubbish.

  4. I am with you on this and have written a number of times about the complete and utter bs of giving these slots away. I could understand if this was 2000 and you wanted to promote the sport but the sport is going through such a boom that the idea of using this to promote the sport is even more nonsense.

    And if that doesn’t piss you off just wait until we see Posh Spice all over the triathlon world because her husband has decided he is going to race Kona as well. How did he qualify for Kona? Well, Mr Beckham got the itch to race after training a bit with Ramsay. Of course, he is now a Kona qualifier by osmosis.

  5. Tdh says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The lottery is BS. I do have a bit more empathy for the legacy program though and believe that they should do away with the general lottery and award those slots to people who have more than likely supported the brand far more

  6. Gary says:

    I heard awhile back Beckham and Ramsey were to ‘Race’ Kona (2014) just wondering if they did, or did they pull out finally realising nobody wants them there unless they earned their place? I would be curious however to see Beckhams finishing times!

    • Ramsay pulled out of both Ironman Wales (September) and Kona citing Achilles issues. No word on Beckham though. Maybe Posh Spice wouldn’t let him come out to play, or he got sidetracked rolling in his piles of money.

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