If you read this blog regularly, you know that I occasionally poke fun at triathletes. As a result I sometimes get a salty comment or two. Keep in mind, triathletes, that I’m only having a little fun with you. Do not forget that I myself have done every distance of triathlon that there is, including a full Ironman.
By the laws that govern all of sport, you are not to question anything I do or say unless you also have completed a full-distance triathlon of 140.6 miles. Conversely, if you have done so in a time significantly better than mine, a feat quite easily attainable as I barely made it before the cutoff at midnight, I am required by sport law to be your squire, polishing your goggles and spraying Pam on your body at your next race.
Or that would be the case if I still lived in the world of triathlon. But nay, I have ascended from the Wal-Mart of endurance sport where athletes can get all their disciplines in one place to the boutique specialty shop of cycling where the smugness comes free with any purchase.
Yes, who can question that cycling is the upper echelon of endurance sport? Why else would a pack of 5’6″ 120lb dudes be so revered and fretted over?
All kidding aside, I am proud to be an Ironman triathlete, as everyone who has done one surely is. Many of us get the M-dot tattooed on our legs so that we can forever be known for the Ironmen that we are. What could be better than walking to the start at a 10k with the red M-dot Ironman logo tattooed on your leg, leaving awed fellow runners in your wake?
Sure, some people get the M-dot logo tattooed on themselves when they’ve only done a half Ironman race of 70.3 miles, but they usually use colors or the numbers to denote the difference. Now, though, the Ironman M-dot logo and brand might be getting even more diluted, because the World Triathlon Corporation who owns it is now going to start hosting Olympic distance races as reported in the Wall Street Journal.
World Triathlon Corp., whose signature long-distance event, the Ford Ironman World Championship, is taking place in Hawaii this Saturday, plans to add 13 U.S. triathlons to its 2011 lineup that will cover only 31.9 miles, which is the distance used for triathlons in the Summer Olympic Games.
As you can see if you read the full-length WSJ article, it was clearly written by someone who is wholly ignorant of triathlon, as they’ve rounded up the distance from 140.6 to 141 miles, something a triathlete would never do.
This trend of shorter distance races propping up longer ones is present in all of endurance racing. Marathons typically offer a half marathon option which gets much more entries than the full distance option does. I happened to be privy to the numbers of entries from one such marathon, and they look like this:
12,491 registered Half Marathon Runners
2,800 registered Full Marathon Runners
It may not seem like a big deal, but its hard to distinguish from the race schwag after the fact who did the full distance race and who just did the half. This can be a little annoying to full marathon runners because they paid more and ran twice as far for the same tee shirt design. Note that some races, the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, AL being one that I know of, do a good job of differentiating. I know because I’ve done both distances.
Unfortunately I think that this is just one of those things that we’re going to have to learn to live with. Some people are going to want to do full-distance races, and in order for there to be full-distance races to do, promoters are going to have to make money by selling shorter-distance entries to people who don’t want to be in pain for quite so many hours on end. Having done three full-distance marathons myself, if you count the one I did as part of Ironman, I don’t know that I will ever do another. They hurt!
Still, I’m kind of glad I never got an Ironman M-Dot tattoo. How would I explain such a thing to my fellow cyclists? The shame!