HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS for you: are you, as a reader of Triathlon Magazine Canada, more interested in full- distance training and news? Standard- distance? Sprint? All of the above?
I ask this question based on a conversation I had with a few of the editors from our sister publication, Canadian Running magazine, who were working on a story about the “death of the 10K.” Turns out that the marathon is the big deal in the running world these days. A lot of running programs will basically steer people toward a 5K race, then move right to a half-marathon with an eye on a marathon.
This got me thinking about our sport. I keep hearing that Ironman is dominating the sport these days, and that many events are seeing drops in participation rates because of the growth of the M-dot. And, although I feel like that’s true at some levels, I’m not sure the numbers truly support it. Here’s what I mean. There are more than 90,000 triathletes in Canada. While a survey suggested that the half- distance was the most popular among Triathlon Magazine Canada readers, I struggle to imagine that even 45,000 of the triathletes in the country would take part in a half- or full- distance race in 2019. Even if we assume that there are 2,000 competitors in each of the seven Ironman events in Canada this year (and no one does an event twice), we’re looking at 14,000 athletes at all of the Ironman events and roughly 10,000 at Ironman 70.3 races. I am guessing that the organizers of races like the Barrelman, Esprit and Great White North halfdistance races across Canada would be thrilled to expect that there were 35,000 athletes getting ready to compete in one of their halfs this year.
All of this leads me to believe that a lot of the people who call themselves triathletes in Canada compete in shorter races. So why do I keep being told that our sport is shifting toward longer distances? And I especially wonder why I’m hearing that when I’m anticipating a huge push from Canadian triathletes to qualify for the national team this year, so they can race at the 2020 ITU World Championships in Edmonton (News, p.54).
I think the answer is that so many of the people I see on a regular basis aren’t necessarily “average” triathletes. (I put average in quotes, because, in my mind, there are truly no “average” triathletes.) I hope I can explain what I mean through an example.
When I started working for Graham Fraser at what was then the President’s Choice Triathlon Series (now the Subaru Triathlon Series) in the early ’ 90s, we got into a heated discussion about how many people participated in almost all 10 races in the series. I was certain, because it seemed like I saw so many people week in and week out at each of the races, that the number was banging on a thousand. He just laughed – he told me that there weren’t even a few hundred who did six or seven of the events, let alone all of them. He was able to show me the numbers – the vast majority of the athletes who took part in the series did just one race. Six or seven? Not that many.
Which brings me back to the question I started with. My hope is that the readers of Triathlon Magazine Canada share my love of all aspects of triathlon – that we love to watch the ITU folks hammer through sprintand standard-distance races, and are equally as thrilled to watch the coverage from Kona and other full-distance events. That we might be focused on a full-distance race in Whistler or Mont-tremblant this year, but might also be gunning for Edmonton next year.
I’d love to hear how you would answer that question.
ABOVE Age-group competitor Brent Roy competes at the ITU Edmonton event in 2017