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HOW THE TRIATHLON BECAME THE NEW STATUS SYMBOL


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http://www.details.com/culture-trends/crit...w-status-symbol

 

Chances are you've been there: a dinner party where you get stuck sitting next to a lawyer who has nothing to say about the law—but won't shut up about Chamois Butt'r cream and the wonders of his triathlon ladder workout. Your coworker Seth, across the table, presents an iPhone slide show in which he is doing his best impressions of Usain Bolt, Lance Armstrong, and Michael Phelps. And then Steve, the creative director playing host, announces that when he travels for work he books only hotels with pools, so he can get in his lap time. More subtly than, say, whipping out the keys to his Bugatti, a certain sort of image-conscious striver makes the distinction clear: Prestige comes with being an athletic triple threat.

 

It used to be that only true He-Men dared call themselves triathletes, but now all manner of aspirant, Type-A personalities are trying on the title. These are the guys who put the "try" in triathlete, who've seized on the once-forbidding sport as a form of social currency, the athletic equivalent of dropping mentions of a Hamptons summer home or a Harvard M.B.A.

 

If you're a mere, uh, uniathlete, step aside. And if you're an actual Ironman, well, you've already been making room for plenty of Johnny-come-latelies: USA Triathlon, the governing body of the sport, counted 53,000 dues-paying members in 2004; last year there were more than double that number. The group estimates that in recent years as many as 250,000 Americans have participated in triathlons annually.

 

A lot of them, says George Dallam, author of Championship Triathlon Training, are corporate types looking to prove they're insiders: "I think today's executive is just as likely to be a triathlete, whereas 15 or 20 years ago that person would have always been a golfer—golf would have been the way you bonded with other executives." And while Dallam won't knock anything that gets Americans off the couch, he can't help but be nostalgic. "I started back around 1981," he says, "and in those days it was a very bizarre group, probably not more than a few hundred people in the whole country who were actively pursuing triathlon."

 

Therein lies the paradox of the sport: Even as it has gone soft—with no shortage of pussy races that, for instance, substitute 15 pool laps for multi-mile open-ocean crossings—the triathlon has somehow held on to much of its cred. "In the early days," says John Mora, author of Triathlon 101, "I think there was this perception that it was only for hard-body athletes, that it was a drill-sergeant type of activity. When people thought of triathlons, they thought of the Ironman"—the grueling Ur-race that involves 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and a full 26.2-mile marathon, in that order. Today, he points out, "the majority of participants in the large-scale events are just kind of average." Among the official rules for the Chicago triathlon, the nation's largest: "You may stop and rest during the swim . . . You may hang on to the guard boats or buoys." Curiously, in light of the sport's ripped-guy rep, how you placed matters little—it's cachet achieved by mere completion.

 

The mystique is what drew 30-year-old Pittsburgh native Jeremy Cornman to the sport 10 years ago. "At the beginning, I would say, maybe I liked the idea of being a triathlete more than actually being one," he says. Then, five years ago, he got involved with a woman who challenged both him and his ego, eventually turning him into a frequent Ironman competitor. Now he admits to scoffing a bit at the "one-and-done kind of guy—the corporate bigwig who tries to talk the talk, and has all the high-end gear, but has no idea what he's doing."

 

Kevin Shiner, a 30-year-old financial-aid counselor at a Manhattan college who completed his first triathlon last fall (the grueling and legit SavageMan in Maryland) and is training for more events in 2010, can already spot the status-seeking type Cornman is talking about. "For a decent tri bike," he says, "you're spending $4,000 or $5,000. For a decent wet suit, you're spending $400. That's a lot of money for a guy to just be able to say, 'Hey, I finished a triathlon.' " Yes, and as with a membership at Winged Foot or a share in NetJets, that's part of the appeal.

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It's like this one guy who was strutting his stuff at a recent BBQ I went to, who was dropping "I just finished a triathlon" into every possible conversation he could enter into. Other people tried chiming in with their own personal fitness achievements, but he simply made snide remarks about their 'pathetic attempts'.

 

 

Normally I would be the first one to go up and congratulate him, have a chat to him about the experience, and try to get him to come out and train more regularly with me.... but the way he was just so cocky about it made me avoid him....

 

Further investigation revealed that he was doing a single leg relay (he did the run) in an enticer distance triathlon.

Edited by a.brasington
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My conversations:

 

A: "So what do you do for fun?"

 

B: "Oh I do adventure races"

 

A: "Really?! Whats it like?"

 

B: "Its like a really dirty problem solving triathlon with bugs and reptiles"

 

(EDIT) A: "Oh cool, I do Zumba"

Edited by a.brasington
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Actually a serious thought on this (it happens every few months).

 

I am seeing more and more resumes that list "triathlon" as an interest - anything from a simple bullet point, to a ramble about what distances they're interested in. It's pretty damn obvious where to find a person's results.

 

I even had a person tell me that he'd "done the Gatorade series" one year - I looked him up, his sole effort was a single DNS. :lol:

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I am seeing more and more resumes that list "triathlon" as an interest - anything from a simple bullet point, to a ramble about what distances they're interested in.

 

Do you ask them in the interview if you will find them spending all day watching transitions?

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I think there are people you can look down upon for spoiling the sport's exoticism, and there are people you can always look up to, who are much much better than you, unless you are Craig Alexander or some similar god.

 

Now if one of these DNF tossers brags themselves as a triathlete to you, you can also brag that you are a triathlete to Craig Alexander iniit? He'd probably think, wot a tosser?!

 

We are tossers for someone and gods for someone. Let's look up to our role models and stop worrying about tossers.

Edited by Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
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Im quite happy to tell Crowie and Macca how good I am! :lol:

 

 

 

On a similar note, many years ago my wife (who was very proud of my triathlon achievements (bless her)) was telling a work colleague of my triathlon conquests, when the co worker mentioned her husband also did triathlons.

 

My wife was talking me up to Grant Websters wife :lol::D

 

For those who dont know Grant was the fastest Aussie at IM a few years back. :D:D

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"I am seeing more and more resumes that list "triathlon" as an interest"

 

 

Is that a bad thing? I am unemployed at the moment and I list it on my resume. I'm in my mid 50's and finding it hard to get an interview. I was hoping that an employer would see that as a positive thing. :lol:

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Is that a bad thing? I am unemployed at the moment and I list it on my resume. I'm in my mid 50's and finding it hard to get an interview. I was hoping that an employer would see that as a positive thing. :lol:

 

Think most would not see it as a negative - having some sort of outside interests that show a bit of discipline and looking after yourself is always good.

 

Of course if you get in some place where a previous employee who did IM was obsessive compulsive impossible to work with, they might shy away

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I even had a person tell me that he'd "done the Gatorade series" one year - I looked him up, his sole effort was a single DNS. :lol:

 

 

He was obviously quite proud of himself though!!!

 

Cheers

Ayto

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"I am seeing more and more resumes that list "triathlon" as an interest"

 

Is that a bad thing? I am unemployed at the moment and I list it on my resume. I'm in my mid 50's and finding it hard to get an interview. I was hoping that an employer would see that as a positive thing. :lol:

 

No it's a very positive thing!

 

It's just a double-edged sword if you lie about what triathlon you do - hence my example of the guy that flat-out lied about his Gatorade series.

 

The reason I'm saying this about triathlon in particular is how easy it is to check. For example, say you live in Melbourne and put "I regularly compete at triathlon". Well if I have the time, I will probably hit up the Supersprint, STF and WSTC websites - starting with the BRW results. Not finding your name there doesn't prove you don't do triathlon, but I'm now curious... so which triathlons is this guy "regularly" doing, then?

 

Compare that to someone who is a "keen runner" or "plays amateur football"... that's almost completely google-stalk proof. :lol:

 

Anyway please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't put it on your resume - just be aware you might get asked what triathlon you do.... and if you're not actually doing any... well that would be a really awful moment.

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Soon after buying roller blades and a jet ski.

 

 

Well I've trashed my blades (but at least my arm is out of the cast now), can someone send me $400 for a new set while I wait for Santa to bring me the Jet Ski ?

 

Edit: O/K I think of myself as a triathlete - but then again it's been nearly 30 years and heading toward 300 races, then again I only wear tri related shirts to work on "casual days" (and we can wear anything we like from T-shirt to thre piece suit (though a singlet would probably raise a few eyebrows - but I did see on on one of the youger guys over xmas). And I generally try to keep the subject out of dinner table conversations (wife's eyes roll back in her head if that happens - she was over tri's about 20 years ago - she was ther for the first one, many of the next 100, and both attempts at the worlds)

Edited by trifun
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"I am seeing more and more resumes that list "triathlon" as an interest"

 

 

Is that a bad thing? I am unemployed at the moment and I list it on my resume. I'm in my mid 50's and finding it hard to get an interview. I was hoping that an employer would see that as a positive thing. :lol:

 

It's a good thing if the person reading the CV isn't a triathlete because it sounds like you're a dedicated motivational person that can achieve impressive goals.

 

It's a bad thing if the person reading is a triathlete as they'll know you'll be having 90min lunches at the pool and be asleep at your desk after your early AM rides. :lol:

Edited by FatPom
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i know this is probably done before but when can you truly say "IM A TRIATHLETE"

Any time you want to call yourself a Triathlete is fine by me. I don't get to hung up on having to do a particular distance or making it a lifestyle choice to call yourself one. I can't even remember the last time I used the phrase "I'm a triathlete". I always say "I do triathlons"

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I have used that phrase once. I was hooning down a hill on my mountain bike (maybe 2nd or 3rd ride not sure), had my arms on the bars a bit like how you do on tri bars (before I had ever used tri bars), yelling “I’m a triathlete get out of my way” .... this was my comment on the fact I could only find white, yes WHITE, MTB shoes. WT? Why, just because I am a chick, would someone think that white is a good colour for mountain bike shoes.....

 

mmm not sure if this contributes or not....

 

 

(still need new shoes too)

 

(heheee just rememberd I had probably only done 2, possibly 3 mini tris at that point. hahahaaaaa )

Edited by TheAntiSport
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I think anyone who has copmpleted a triathlon technically is a triathlete! Who cares what they call themselves???? Life is a struggle and if people are getting out there and having a go, then who cares what they call themselves?

 

Oh, and more powere to Mr 50 year old for staying healthy and fit. Good luck with your job hunting!

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Any time you want to call yourself a Triathlete is fine by me. I don't get to hung up on having to do a particular distance or making it a lifestyle choice to call yourself one. I can't even remember the last time I used the phrase "I'm a triathlete". I always say "I do triathlons"

I think the only time I say "I'm a triathlete" is when I'm running with a group of dedicated runners and they start to drop me! :lol:

 

Seriously though, saying "I'm a triathlete" doesn't imply "I can keep up with Crowie" so if swimming biking and running are a part of someone's life (even just a small part) I say go for it.

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