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The Multisport Subculture

Posted Jul 28 2010 12:00am

Patrick and I recently traded emails and a phone call (strange nervousness, like a first date, one thing to email and comment on a post, quite another to actually talk to a blogging friend). Part of the conversation was about the subculture that exists in the multisport world of Doing It Yourself (DIY).  We both came out of the punk rock movement in the 80's, Patrick in Boston and me in SoCal. Everyone we knew was in a band, putting on shows, publishing a fanzine, or just thumbing their noses at society's conventions. You know what? Punk's not dead, or at least it's philosophy.

Triathlon, which many people first think of when thinking of multisport, was born of DIY thinking - some of us are swimmers, some cyclists, some runners. Who's the best athlete? Let's create a race with all the disciplines! Oh yeah, but what is the toughest of the three sports? "At that time Hawaii hosted The Waikiki Rough Water Swim (2.4 miles), The Oahu Bike Race (112 miles) and The Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles). Originally events in themselves, they were rolled into one to become the ‘Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.’ ( Kelly Ehritz )" Pretty seat of their pants, completely DIY. No one was waiting for a race to be organized, they just created one for themselves.

What's my contribution? Nothing yet. What I'd love to start is an organization that organized kids' races/events and also sold kids endurance gear. With experience, it could/would be expanded to adults as well. My ultimate dream would be to go nationwide or even outside of the USA (hello Canada, Caribbean and Mexico!).

One other comparison I see quite clearly is the rapidly coming commodification of multisport, much like the mainstream accepted and co-opted punk. Walmart now sponsors an urban youth triathlon team, Lance Armstrong has everyone aTwitter with the possibility that he will race Kona in 2011, and even Runner's World is urging its readers to give triathlon a try. None of this in itself is wrong, just like punk's sellout wasn't wrong, it's just the way our culture works. My concern is the people who believe you've only done an "Ironman" if you've participated in a World Triathlon Corporation race. Do you know that K226 lists literally thousands of 70.3 and 140.6 races?

Go read Patrick's post, where, along with his take on DIY and the endurance world, he also asserts that he, not Al Gore, would have invented the Internet if only a pretty girl had not spurned his advances. Maybe I'm misreading it, but in my defense, I was distracted by his stylish track jacket photo.

Patrick with Endurance Athlete Project or Ron at Punk Rock Racing are obvious examples of the DIY mentality. Do you see DIY in the multisports world? How will you contribute?
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