I did my first triathlon in 2001, riding a mountain bike and running in tennis shoes. Since then, I’ve done around 10 races a year and was lucky enough to represent Australia at the World Age Group Champs in London in 2013.
After nearly 17 seasons competing in triathlons, I can feel my enthusiasm for the sport waning. Sure, I’m kind of fed up with racing against people on the juice, and the seriousness and aggression of these people also take a lot of the fun out of the races, but I think my time has just about come. I’d also like to start playing sport again, namely basketball and tennis.
I thought a lot about this while racing the Ostseetriathlon in Eckernförde yesterday. This race makes a good example of the current state of triathlon and my feelings towards the sport. This small town on the Baltic Sea attracted some amazing athletes, and also plenty of ordinary-looking athletes who could somehow pull off extraordinary feats. There were old men running faster than guys half their age, while the elite in the field would have been competitive against professional athletes.
But the real problem is that it wasn’t much fun. Because triathlon used to be fun. Now, it’s a very serious affair, with athletes who have invested in their gear (and in what goes inside their bodies), and they’ve invested lots of time into training, and they’re determined to do well. They are racing for success, and not for the joy of taking part.
It used to be there were a few guys in each race with that attitude. In Eckernförde, it seemed just about all 300 had that attitude. It was a very serious, competitve race. Nearly everyone was grimacing and not grinning.
So, I’ve decided to sell my triathlon bike and will next year participate in only a few races, if any. Those races will be selected on how much fun they are, and Eckernförde won’t be on the list.