Additionally, the insider culture that has enabled triathlon to grow over the last decade could, in fact, be what ultimately holds it back. Don't get me wrong; I think triathletes are some of the coolest people in the world...but I am already on the inside. It remains to be seen whether or not we can all stand at the entrance and hold the door open for our newfound friends.
Finally, over the last five year triathlon has seen unparalleled growth and consolidation. This streamlining of events means that there is some consistency across races. But it also means that many events have lost the grassroots, backyard-appeal that leads so many athletes to get hooked on the sport in the first place. Those amazing races are still out there, of course, it's up to us to make sure that they don't get lost in the shuffle.
A testament to these old school events can be seen in the recent popularity of multisport challenges that capture the athleticism of triathlon without the lofty equipment. Events such as the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and the Warrior Dash capture this fringe element building in fun, fitness and interaction.
In other words, triathlon's competition is here and it's gaining momentum.
The Win/Loss Ratio
- WIN: Short course races will draw more attention as more people are drawn to the sport.
- WIN: Fringe sports will pick up those who "try the tri" but don't end up sticking to the sport, following the fun instead.
- LOSS: Old school, underground races might get overlooked as people chase the big-name events. (Don't let that happen!)
- LOSS: A shrinking pool of races could increase registration prices and demand, making triathlon even more elitist and expensive.
There's No Such Thing as Bad PR
There's no doubt that the next eight months will bring new challenges and opportunities for the sport of triathlon. Between the 2012 London Olympics and the renewed interest thanks to Lance Armstrong, our sport will see unprecedented coverage and growth. Regardless of what side of the issue you fall on, the future most certainly holds a very different multisport landscape.