Triathlon is attracting more and more people everyday and is really growing into a really big sport. It’s has gone from “a few nutcases” to “that thing my bosses do on weekends” and during that time a trend has been emerging. Triathlon is taking the potential new members from the golf clubs.
Golf is a sport that is quite exclusive. You don’t just need expensive equipment, you also need an expensive membership to a club, expensive clothes and to fit in, preferebly, expensive habits.
It has attracted managers and business owners because “you can do business while you golf” but in my oppinion that’s just bullsh#t. It attracts managers and business owners because it feel luxurious and you can get away with doing it during work hours. You also get to spend a lot of money on stuff and toys. The last thing is that it also takes a lot of your free time. “Unfortunately” that affects the time spent with the wives.
So how is it that triathlon, a sport not similar to golf in any way, is attracting new prospective gold club members to the sport? Are there any similarities at all? Yes, there are and the biggest driver towards triathlon is the ongoing fitness trend. Gold doesn’t fit into the current fitness ideal as a real sport so the “modern managers” needs to find something new to do that also makes them seem fit and healthy. There are a number of fitness sports to engage in but here are the main 5 reasons why they get attracted to triathlon:
Exclusivity in the sense of a closed group, more than champagne for lunch, is something that is important to this group. Triathlon is still quite an exclusive sport when it comes to the number of participants and members in different clubs. It’s a quite homogeneous group, mostly men, age 30-50, high level of education, high income with a bit of freedom when it comes to time. Basically it’s a club of middle age men doing something that everyone can’t do together. Exclusive.
While you would think that running, swimming and cycling wouldn’t be that expensive nothing could be farther from the truth. Memberships to swimming clubs costs about € 450 per year. Entry fee’s to races range from €85-€250 per race excluding travel and accommodation. Now these are the small expenses. I’ve done some calculations of what I spend per year on swimming gear alone and it amounts to around €400 per year. When it comes to running that amount is about €650 per year. And now comes the expensive part, the bike.
A good bike will cost you anywhere from €2000 – € 6500 and you will probably spend 10-20% of that per year on your bike in services, repairs, bike-fits and what not. So yes, it’s expensive and the range that I’ve written down now is still “economy class”. If you want to go nuts, this sport gives you every opportunity to spend ridiculous amounts of cash every year.
Golf is a lot about the gear, the clothes, the shoes, the accessories, the bag, the electronics and all other toys. Triathlon is the same. In swimming there aren’t that much clothes but you “must” at least have 3-4 pairs of swimming pants for different sessions, 2-3 different pairs of goggles and of course at least 2-3 wet suites for different occasions. For swimming alone I always have at least 7 “toys” to every practice: pull buoy, paddles, fins, tempo trainer (a little swim computer), snorkel, kick board and of course a watch that measures strokes, lengths and efficiency.
For running you need at least 3 different pairs of running shoes. You need a watch that calculates speed, average speed and distance.
And then cycling. The king of toy sports. After buying ten different pants, shirts, suites and shoes you now need a good helmet, 2-4 different sun glasses, a bicycle computer, a trainer for winter practice and of course at least 2 different bikes. In short, it’s all about the stuff.
Golf takes up a lot of time which is one of the reasons men tend to like it. It’s a private getaway, preferably during the weekend. Triathlon takes up a lot of your time as well. Swimming takes 2-3 practices per week for 1-1,5 hours. Running takes 2-3 practices per week for 1-2 hours if you train for an olympic triathlon (1500 m swim, 40 km cycle, 10 km run). Cycling will take anywhere from 2-4 practices per week for 1-4 hours and the weekend runs are often closer to 4 hours than 1. Now this is a training schedule for a moderate race. If you are going for an Iron Man you need to double up on this, at least.
Even though triathlon is a sport that relies on the principle “you against the watch” you are not alone when you do it. You train in groups when you swim, you probably train in groups when you run and you train in groups when you cycle. So you are still training with the same group of people that you would meet at the golf court. The traditional men’s club is definitely incorporated into this sport.