Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENTS - KEVIN MACK­IN­NON EDITOR

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

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