Getting technical

I’m trying to figure out a formula whereby one might show if a triathlon result is dubious or not. Let’s give it a good old Aussie go.

An Olympic distance triathlon is 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run. The pros do this in about 1hr 50mins, but this is not a good comparison as those races are draft legal (riders can bunch up and ride as a peloton, basically cancelling out the bike leg, while in amateur races drafting is not permitted, making the bike a serious, and rather lonely, slog). And they’re pros; all they do is eat, sleep and train.

I will say that a really good amateur, around 25 years of age and with a training programme, can do this distance in 2hrs. That’s a good starting pointing: 2hrs. Let’s call this the “amateur threshold”. Now for the variables. The easiest are age and weight. For age, it’s well-known that athletes enter decline after the age of thirty. So, every year over that age counts as an extra thirty seconds, up to age 44. After 44, every year counts as an extra minute. For weight, every kilogram over the healthy weight (based on a person’s height) counts as another thirty seconds. Remember, this is all theoretical, with no science involved. Other variables that need to be factored in include lifestyle, working hours, training hours, history of injuries, attitude, etc, but these things are hard to calculate. I’m trying to keep this simple.

Example 1: male, 42 years old, 1.80m, 82kgs. 12 years = 6 minutes. 4 kgs = 2 minutes. This athlete’s amateur threshold is 2hrs 8mins. If this athlete did an Olympic distance race in under this time, I would call the result dubious.

Example 2: male, 60 years old, 1.70m, 74kgs. 14 years = 7 minutes. 16 years = 16 minutes. 4 kgs = 2 minutes. This athlete’s amateur threshold is 2hrs 25mins.

Looking at the thresholds for the two examples, this seems about right. Ah, but it’s all conjecture. We still need WADA to rock up unannounced at some local amateur race and do some testing. There’s some science.

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