Austin...State of the Sport...(part 1 of a TBD part series)
Posted Aug 28 2009 8:20pm
It is with much thought and with much pondering that I write the blog entry. Oops, I guess thought and pondering are the same. Enough with trying to sound like any of our present, past, or future presidents. I find out each week that a few more folks might read this than I think. Of course, maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel good in thinking that my blog is actually read by some of the general public. I know that some of the triathlon public read the blog, so it is with hesitation that I step out and give my 'state of the sport' address. More specifically, the 'state of the sport' address here in Austin. Actually, a couple of friends who have left Austin requested a state of the sport address...so here goes.
Truth be told, the sport of triathlon has never been stronger in Austin, Texas. The sport of triathlon has never been stronger nationwide. There are more training groups than ever in Austin. There are more coaches than ever...but don't get me started on their relative qualifications. Some out there seem to think that you really don't have to know a whole lot to be a coach, and that's close to a quote from a so-called coach. Heck, I have a chemical engineering degree and about 30 books on triathlon, running, and cycling, and I call myself a coach. I also have 17 seasons of multisport mistakes, successes, and everything in between to my credit as well.
Triathlons are the new marathon. Everyone used to want to finish a marathon...now people want to be able to call themselves a triathlete. Danskin has done wonders for the women in the community. Of course, the general public still doesn't realize that a triathlon is a triathlon is a triathlon. To me, it doesn't matter if you've done one sprint race or 100 Ironmans, you're still a triathlete. I wasn't a true triathlete by a lot of standards until November 2001 when I completed my first "full triathlon" as friends called them. I went on to race Hawaii in 2002 and realized that I like trying to go fast rather than 'race' all day. Training all day is great, but I want my race to be over in 2 hours. So, if you're reading this and you haven't completed an Ironman, don't worry you are still a triathlete.
But, what about the Ironman? I think that it is sort of killing the local clubs and races...others will make the opposite arguement and I can sort of buy that too. But, why are the local clubs and races dying? Because triathletes are generally type A people. You also have to sign up for an official IM a YEAR in advance because they will fill up within hours after opening registration. Once a Type A person signs up for an IM, they train with the sole focus of completing that race. They generally join a training group where they get their group workouts and social interaction. Then, many of them stop doing the local events because they have to do a long ride and run. The result is that while there are more events than ever, all but the biggest or "coolest" have slowly declining race entrants (danskin, captex, river cities). Another result, Tri Clubs that were one 400-600 members strong now struggle to have 50 at a monthly meeting. Tri clubs used to be the source of social interaction between athletes and a good souce of information. Here in Austin, Tri-training programs and groups have almost taken the place of the tri club. Things have become more 'clique-esh' (political comment #1). So, in a way, I think that the IM events have had somewhat detrimental effect on the sport on some local levels.
That's enough for today. Part 1 = Generic State of the sport. Part 2 = More mindless ramblings. Part 3 = Yet more mindless ramblings. Part 4 = My fingers are tired of typing.