Monday, February 13, 2012

Triathlon is Changing: The Lance Factor

Unless you live under a rock, by now you've seen Lance Armstrong racing in the Ironman 70.3 Panama.  Lance beat some pretty big names - and beat them like a drum.  To me this is a testament to a few things: 1) Lance's talent - the guy is a gifted athlete who works his ass off.  (That part usually gets left out.) When talent and preparation combine you get great results. 2) Triathlon is changing.  It's getting a shit load (technical term) faster.  If you intend to be in the pointy end of any field (pro or your age group) you had better have some speed behind that endurance. 3) This is very good for the sport of triathlon and cycling. (As well as the debate of who is fastest between all of our comrades in these different sports.)

1) Lance Armstrong is good for triathlon and will bring sponsors, media and positive attention to the sport.  In my opinion, this is excellent.  This is critical for prize purses to grow and television audiences to grow.  Lance as a personality, is good for the sport.  Face it - he is exciting to watch.  Even my mother knew that he was racing the Ironman 70.3 Panama and she asks me to help her "turn on the Internet, but not the world wide web part".  (Love you mom.) 

- with attention to the sport - it brings fans - fans bring money - money brings sponsors and ultimately live television.  Imagine watching Kona live... all day, from anywhere in the world.

- the sport of triathlon gets better whenever a great athlete enters.  Even a not so famous one.

- prize money will continue to grow.  Extremely important if the game of triathlon is going to come out of the "fringe sport" view of the popular media and into the main stream.  This had been starting to change a few years ago, but now is building into a tsunami.  

- Kona, post Ironman, went back to being a fishing village known for marlin fishing.  Now, it is a training destination where triathletes are showing up on a regular basis from all over the world.  Post race "after parties" are big events.  Even the "TGINR" party is huge - (Thank God I'm Not Racing).  Face it - Kona is evolving.

2) Last October in Kona we saw the pros set new levels of competitiveness.  What I noticed is the age group races now require an athlete to be well balanced and fast.  For example, if your goal is to be on the "podium" of the Kona stage - hope you can run a Boston Marathon qualifying time after swimming 2.4 and cycling 112 miles in 137 F temperatures.  

Fast is redefined.

3) Training must change.  Pro or age group you'll need to change "what always worked".  This is the really cool part about sport.  Don't change?  Become irrelevant.  Stay on the cutting edge and keep pushing the envelope?  Keep winning.

As an athlete, marshal and local race director - I think Lance racing is great.  The marshal in me doesn't give a shit (technical term) who is racing.  When I have the marshal stripes on - I only see bodies and actions.  Ask my friend Jeremy who got a penalty in Kona from me.  (It was legit.  Left side riding until we caught him while he passed nobody.  That is a text book position foul.  Gotta call what I see mate.)  Even Jeremy admitted he had no idea what the hell he was doing at that moment.

This begs my final question for you: 

How have you changed as triathlon has evolved?


  1. Hey Bob, remind me again which race you are race director for? I know you told me but I forgot.


  2. Hi Chris - It's coming in a blog entry soon. I'm one of the partners in a 1/2 Ironman race this summer. Additionally, I'm partners in a three day bike race.


  3. Bob, I look forward to hearing more information about your 1/2 IM and 3 day bike races. I know you know what it takes to put on a good race that is safe and people will enjoy.