Revolutions3, aka Rev3Tri or just Rev3 began in 2009 as an alternative to Ironman. The series supported pro athletes with big prize money—over $2 million in pro cash paid to date—but didn't forget about its primary customers. Its fans did and still do consider Rev3 a race series with a heart.
Other triathletes complain of Ironman's cost in time and treasure, the lack of a humane refund or transfer policy, and the rest of a long list of Ironsins, and then they fork over Ironmoney while Rev3—heart be damned—struggled to fill its fields.
After a number of high-profile changes Rev3 had settled in with a formula gauged to allow the series pay its own way, and for elite athletes to earn according to the value they provide. Rev3 just held the first of its six series races over the past weekend (Knoxville, and the images herein are of the weekend's Rev3 Knoxville event and of its pro women contestants).
How did this Knoxville race go, and is the series poised to do better or worse than it did in prior years?
First, a little history.
The Rev3 series made 3 consequential changes over the last 3 years. First, it cut its prize money for the same reason Life Time dropped its money and Ironman dropped the prize money at a number of its races: all these organizations either did not realize a benefit from having pros race; or they took a wager that the success they enjoyed would continue without pro participation and the large purses that attend that participation.
Rev3's prize money decision was an obvious choice of pro athletes to patronize Ironman races instead. Back in April of 2014, when it made its prize money change, only 24 pros were confirmed for an upcoming Rev3 race offering a $100,000 prize purse race, while Ironman Florida, conducted a few months prior and with only a $25,000 prize purse, hosted a field of roughly 80 professionals.
But the money for Rev3's races didn't entirely cease. It offered a $5000 (minus $1) purse for its events so that all comers were eligible for the money.
Rev3 is back offering money to pros, but craftily thought out and explained further below.
For the 2015 season Rev3 made its second consequential decision, to partner with the worldwide brand Challenge Family. The Rev3 series formed the ballast of Rev3's encroachment into the U.S., with Challenge races also taking place in Atlantic City and just outside Sacramento, California.
But by the end of 2015 the Challenge offensive had collapsed, with all U.S. licensees pulling out of their Challenge partnerships.
Rev3 had a decision to make for the 2016 season: fold the tent or soldier on as before. Obviously it chose the latter. But with a twist.
Now Rev3 is providing an incentive to pro athletes. Each event will carry a purse of $5,000 to sky's-the-limit, the purse dependent on the AG entry numbers.
The purse is paid to women-only for 3 of the 6 events, men-only for the other 3. For 2017 the genders will be reversed.
• May 22nd: Rev3 Knoxville, Knoxville, TN – Olympic distance – Pro Women Only
• June 4th: Rev3 Quassy, Middlebury, CT – Olympic distance – Pro Men Only
• July 10: Rev3 Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA – Olympic distance – Pro Women Only
• August 7: Rev3 Pocono Mountains, Shawnee, PA – Olympic distance – Pro Men Only
• August 28: Rev3 Maine, Old Orchard Beach, ME – Olympic distance – Pro Women Only
• September 10: Rev3 Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH – Double Super Sprint – Pro Men Only
How is the strategy working, especially in a sagging U.S. triathlon market?
Entries for the Knoxville race just concluded were down year-over-year according to race management. That should not be a surprise, as on the same day as Knoxville a full field of competitors lined up for Ironman Chattanooga 70.3, less than 2 hours away.
As for the other races, the news is cautiously good. Rev3's well regarded Quassy race will have a purse of $15,000 for the men, and it was the entries that generated that purse. Williamsburg is up, Maine is way up, and the other two races (Poconos and Cedar Point) are slightly up.
Those entering Rev3 races appear to be making their entry decisions earlier, according to the race organization. Why? There is no obvious reason. Rev3 did not offer early-entry incentives beyond what it offered in prior years.
Rev3 also produces events that are not part of the series, steered toward beginners, with pool swims. It just sold out a 500-person pool-swim tri, and this bodes well for Rev3 and for the sport in general.
May 22, 2016
1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run
1. Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 2:02:49
2. Robin Pomeroy (USA) 2:06:45
3. Kristen Marchant (CAN) 2:08:41
4. Anna Cleaver (NZ) 2:18:49
5. Valerie Barthelemy (USA) 2:20:03