Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

Covidman

Monday, March 23rd, 2020 | Sport

Fed up of your 2020 races being cancelled and lacking motivation? Let me introduce you to the Covidman triathlon.

Triathlon training is hard. It requires a lot of dedication. Ideally, it requires a goal. That is why so many of us pick some big A races each year and work towards them. But the 2020 season is not giving us any of that. Early races, as far as World Triathlon Leeds in June, have already been cancelled. Many more cancellations are likely to follow.

So, how do we stay motivated when there is nothing to train for?

I’m proposing Covidman. It is an unsupported one-person race you do by yourself. Pick your distance and swim, bike and run as appropriate.

This is a tricky proposition in itself. Namely, where does one swim? If the pools remain closed, it is unlikely there will be organised swim sessions. Let’s hope the North Sea is nice and warm this year, if so. And certainly worth investing in a tow float.

The bike course should be less of a problem as there are very few cars on the road. On long format, toilet breaks might need to be rather natural, and some homemade aid stations might become necessary. Short format could be done on a turbo, although I find anything more than an hour of indoor cycling to be deeply uncomfortable on my bottom.

Finally, the run. Even in short format, most people appreciate an aid station by this point, so perhaps laps around our houses might be the best option.

It should be clear by this point that I don’t really have a plan. Just a rough outline and an ironic name. But I am no longer training aimlessly: I’m training for Covidman.

Irongran

Friday, March 20th, 2020 | Books

Irongran: How Keeping Fit Taught Me that Growing Older Needn’t Mean Slowing Down is a book by Eddie Brocklesby. She started running in her 50s, took up triathlon in her 60s, and holds the record of the oldest British woman to finish an Ironman, aged 74.

In her biography, she shares her story of how she got involved in endurance sports, went on to found the charity Silverfit, an organisation dedicated to getting older people active, and the many Ironmans she has done. I lost count but I am pretty sure she has finished at least five: Lanzarote twice, Kona, Vichy and Cozumel.

It’s not a rags-to-riches story. She starts by talking about her grandmother who was Winston Churchill’s private cook. But throughout the book, she shows a high level of self-awareness about her opportunities and ability to afford what all of us in triathlon must surely admit is an expensive sport.

Some of the story seems like a sharp contrast. For example, she says she is not well organised. And yet managed to maintain a career, running Silverfit and Ironman training: all things which sound like they need a lot of organisation. Similarly, it’s not like she never got off the couch before 50 as she did play netball competitively, although it is true that she never tried endurance sport until later in life.

Overall, it is a fun and inspiring read.

HPH spin

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 | Sport

January means spin class for Hyde Park Harriers. Back before everyone was posting #FullKitWanker photos on Strava, I was showing up in my shiny new HPH cycling jersey. Completely inappropriate for a sweaty spin room, but what’s the point in buying it if you can’t show up to club events in the kit?

Mike Reilly Finding My Voice

Monday, March 9th, 2020 | Books

Mike Reilly is a famous race announcer. It is not a field you would usually find celebrities. However, Reilly’s consistent appearances at the Ironman World Championship since 1989, and his having coined the phrase “you are an Ironman” as athletes cross the finish line, mean that many triathletes dream of having Reilly call them across the line. In this book, he tells tales from year decades of race announcing.

It’s a fun book. Sort of. I mean that in an “it’s a good collection of stories” way, as opposed to a book you are going to learn anything about triathlon from. Which is fine, because it doesn’t promise to be anything else.

That said, it is not as fun as it could be. Naturally, Reilly tells inspirational stories about amputees who have completed Kona, horrific accidents people have come back from, and the adversity so many people overcome to complete the greeted one-day sporting challenge there is.

But, to be honest, there is only so many tales of horrible things happening to people, like accidents, cancer, and myriad unlucky turns that, at times, the book becomes depressing.

Reilly’s passion for announcing shines through, though. He is a fellow Toastmaster, and while other people wonder how he can stay passionate for 17 hours of racing, I had no problem understanding how he becomes more energised and more excited the longer the night goes on.

The audiobook version is read by Reilly himself.

Strength and conditioning coaching

Monday, February 10th, 2020 | Sport

While everyone else was freaking out about Storm Ciara, I had a three-and-a-half-hour drive, mostly in the dark, up to Durham and back for a strength and conditioning coaching training. I am glad I did brave it as everyone else did, too.

Once you qualify as a triathlon coach, you can coach across all of the disciplines. However, if you want to coach strength and conditioning, you need to do additional training.

It covers physiology, integrating it into a club environment and triathlon programme, and how to do all of the standard exercises safely and correctly. Understanding how to break down a movement so that you can regress and progress people as appropriate is super useful.

Hyde Park Harriers cycling gear

Friday, December 27th, 2019 | Sport

As Hyde Park Harriers Triathlon continues to grow, we’ve been expanding our club kit.

I was a little worried about ordering because when I ordered my tri suit, it took months to turn up and I missed a lot of races. However, I did get a full apology, and ultimately the club decided to stay with our current provider. It’s a monopoly, so it was either take the chance or not be able to wear the club kit.

This time things have been better: it turned up just before Christmas meaning I had it in time for the Festive 50. And it looks pretty snazzy. Yeah, I’m old, “snazzy” was a word when I was a kid.

I haven’t worn the jersey on a ride yet as I also picked up a Gabba in the Black Friday sales (and Elina has now bought me a long-sleeved jersey for Christmas, too), but I have been wearing the arm warmers which seem to do a good job.

Roll on summer when the club rides start again.

Licensed to coach

Saturday, November 30th, 2019 | Life

The paperwork has finally come through for my triathlon coaching qualification. Happy days ahead.

Goole Triathlon

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | Sport

Goole Triathlon is a sprint race that takes place at the start of October. It starts with a 400 metre pool swim in Goole’s leisure centre (which has a massive slide in it!) before taking in the pan flight sights on a 20km bike and 5km run course.

My dad was there, along with his friend Tim, to do their first sprint distance. I clearly need to stay on my toes as their times were not too far behind mine! Venla came along to cheer them home.

IRONMAN’s technology problems

Monday, October 7th, 2019 | Tech

Last week, I wrote about how IRONMAN, as an organisation, do not always have the best reputation among athletes. I do not think this is justified at their events. However, it is frustrating that nobody within the IRONMAN organisation has ever used a computer. Here are some of the problems we have run into.

Registration not working

It was a pain to get through the registration form to create my profile. When I came back a few months later, they had changed their registration system and I had to re-register. Their new form did not work at all. There was no error; the form simply did not do anything.

When I emailed support, they asked me to re-try it. This time it did not work because something had been created in the background and now I could not register with the same details.

Profile problems

Once I was registered and logged in, my upcoming race was missing. I had to email support to get them to sort it out. It took a few emails back and forth to get it sorted.

When I turned up in Weymouth, my date of birth was incorrect. It was a simple matter to get it sorted with the team there, but again frustrating.

Club registration

You cannot just enter your club in your registration form. You have to get the club to give IRONMAN a bunch of personal details for them, too. Graeme was kind enough to do this so that I could list Hyde Park Harriers as my club.

However, they never sent the email confirmation and when I contacted support a month later, they said they had lost of the club registration and we would have to complete it all again if we wanted the club to be listed.

Online store

The online store does not work. I have tried to buy some stuff several times and each time it says that the item is in stock but when I try to add it to my basket it says they have no stock left.

Website design

Oh my, have you ever seen a website designed as badly as IRONMAN?

It is not a mobile-first design, despite mobile traffic overtaking desktop traffic years ago. In fact, if you try to access many of the pages on the website, you do not even get a terrible desktop-designed page. You get a page saying “not available on mobile” like it is the Nineties.

The website is slow.

The navigation is confusing. If you go to a particular race, you have the main website navigation across the top and you have to click a little red button at the bottom of the page instead to access the pages about that particular race.

It is hard to get the information you want. I was trying to find the results for IRONMAN Wales from last year. They are not there, as far as I can tell.

Their SEO is also terrible. Every time I searched for IRONMAN Weymouth, I would get the discontinued full distance race, rather than the half distance that is still running. This would be a relatively easy fix in a sitemap or a robots.txt.

What does a year in triathlon cost?

Sunday, October 6th, 2019 | Religion & Politics, Sport

If you have done some triathlon, you may have noticed that it is dominated by white people. There is very little representation for minorities. One reason could be the cost. Triathlon is expensive. I am not talking about the super-aero bike, or fancy wetsuit, or all the other gear you need. You can get by without most of that. But just entering races is expensive.

In this article, I will break down just how expensive it is, based on my 2019 season.

Registration fees

The biggest cost is registering for races. I did 15 races this year.

Race Fee
Skipton £38
Driffield £54
Tadcaster £45
Leeds £95
Yorkshireman £285
Allerthorpe sprint £54
Castle Howard £99
Redcar £42
Allerthorpe Classic £64
Coalville £46
Sundowner sprint £54
Evolve sprint £40
Nidderdale £47
Ironman Weymouth £281
Evolve mixed relay £20

That makes for an eye-watering total cost of £1,263. Bear in mind that my registration fees are slightly lower than some other people’s because I have already paid for a British Triathlon race licence, that typically saves me £5 on each race. That cost me £40 but has since increased in price.

It is also worth noting that almost half of my fees came from two races: my full distance race and the IRONMAN 70.3. So, if you wanted to stick to short format racing, you could 10 races a year for £500. This is still a lot of money, though, and requires you to avoid big-brand events like World Triathlon Leeds and the Castle Triathlon Series.

Are these fees justified?

On the whole, yes. Some people have argued that £50 is too much of a race. But if you think of the logistics of triathlon: water safety crew, swim caps, a secure transition to avoid bike theft, timing chips, aid stations, bike mechanics and (often, but not always) free photos, there are a lot of costs.

Once you move up to full distance, there are even more considerations. You have to have changing tents, overnight security so people can rack the day before, marshalls on the course for 17 hours, a tonne of nutrition, 180km of road to cover, massages and food after the race, toilets everywhere just to mention a few.

That said, some fees are suspicious. Why does the Castle Howard triathlon cost twice as much as other standard distances races? Why does IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth cost twice as much as other middle distance races?

Other hidden costs

As well as race registration fees, there are some other hidden costs that I think often get forgotten about.

Transport. Most triathlons take place in rural locations where the roads are quiet. This means you have to drive to them. It is difficult to car share because you need to fit the bikes in the car. So, you need to be able to run and fuel a car.

Parking. About half the races I did had free car parking. The others charged extra and while it was typically a small amount, that is another £30 to add on over the course of a year.

Nutrition. This is not a big issue in short format racing. But starts to add up when you are doing long format (or running a marathon). For my full distance race, I took 18 gels and 4 energy bars. At around £2 a pop, that is £44 worth of nutrition in a single race. For Weymouth, I took 8 gels and 1 energy bar, so a much more reasonable £18.

But then there are the drinks, too. I take two 750ml bottles filled with a carb drink. I often discard these bottles at the aid station bottle drops, which means an additional £15 per race. Plus, you need to do long training runs and rides. Which means you need to pay for nutrition for these, too. I did two 100-mile rides and an 80-mile ride as prep for my full distance, and those could well have been £30 per ride in nutrition.

Conclusion

Twelve hundred pounds on registration fees, plus several hundred of nutrition, is an incredibly large amount of money. People can spend a lot on their hobbies, and that is arguably justified if it brings them a lot of pleasure. But that is not even including all the equipment and fancy bike stuff I buy.

Of course, few triathletes race as much as I do. And many stick to short format racing. But I know there are people who do not race as much as they would like to because they cannot afford to. I do not think this is because event organisers are ripping people off (maybe some are). But it is no surprise that the sport is full of rich white people.