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Triathletes take bad economy in stride

Posted Dec 12 2008 2:13pm

By all accounts triathlon racing of every distance continues to thrive while much of the general U.S. economy melts down.

In the last several month and years:

- USA Triathlon, the sport's national governing body, saw its membership increase 15 percent this year to 115,000.

- The World Triathlon Corporation, which owns the Ironman brand, has jumped from 16 half-Ironman races in 2006 to 34 in 2008.

- While newspapers nationwide struggle with declining ad revenue and subscribers, Triathlete magazine's numbers are soaring, with circulation hitting 70,000, a 10 percent annual increase.

Said Triathlete publisher John Duke, “Times are as robust as ever.”

According to SignOnSanDiego:

"Last summer, the New York City Triathlon raised the entry fee for its 2009 race from $175 to $225 . . . and sold out the 4,000-plus spots in less than 30 minutes.

At $500 per entry, the 2009 Ford Ironman Arizona sold 2,000 spots in one day.

At Ford Ironman Florida last month in Panama City, some people drove more than six hours from Atlanta and Nashville to stand in line and register for the 2009 race.

Industry sources say there are multiple reasons why the multi-sport is faring well. Demographics play a part. Duke said the average household income of Triathlete subscribers is $177,000.

“I don't think they're the people getting laid off. They're the people laying off,” he said.

Leo Michaelis, a 34-year-old software consultant who lives in University Town Center, expressed the reason many gave for triathlon's health.

“It seems triathlon isn't a sport,” Michaelis said. “It's a lifestyle.”

Said Ben Fertic, president of the World Triathlon Corporation, “There are all kinds of wealth. Certainly your health and being fit is something you probably value more than anything else.”

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