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Triathlete Blog

Economics 101

By March 24, 2009July 8th, 2015No Comments

News about the economy swirls all around us. You cannot turn on the radio or the television these days without hearing about turbulence in the economy. It is everywhere and becoming an excuse and a reason for anything and everything.

Case in point: the hotel we stayed at in Tucson posted a letter in the room informing us they had cut back on small things because of the economy. In my opinion – that was unnecessary. If your business is helping people get away for a weekend by all means do not remind them of the economy. Did mentioning the economy help them do business any better? And did it make me want to say oh, poor hotel. Oh they are suffering from the economy. Maybe I should donate $20 to them per day so they can put coffee filters back in the room.

(insert answer “uh…….no”)

Come on! We don’t need reminders. We get them every month by way of mail or paperless statement. Our portfolios are growing smaller every month, our 401Ks are shrinking into 201Ks. We’re losing money, worried about money and more than ever consumed by money. We get it.

So what is happening in triathlon?

In my view, nothing. Nada, zip, in fact throw in some Zipp 404 wheels because your 401triathlons are growing and growing strong.


I’ve thought about it – why in a struggling economy can a leisure sport continue to flourish. How can something that is an accessory in someone’s life can continue to grow strong? Losing jobs, cutting back – how is it that someone can make sacrifices everywhere else yet continue to funnel funds into their hobby?

Simply put: triathlon makes us feel good. Sport is something that keeps us grounded, healthy and gives us hope. It also gives us a sense of control. Everything else is storming around us, unpredictability in our future, ambiguity in our jobs yet at the end of the day the one thing we can control is our participation in sport. We cannot outwardly rage about our frustrations at work because we cannot afford to lose our job. We are stuck and pent up. So, we beat ourselves up and release with triathlon. We take it out in the swim, bike and run – we get it out and it feels good. Not only that but we can still achieve in sport. Ever feel like no matter how hard you work at work you will never get ahead? Nor get to that next level? Not in sport. Sport is one of the few places you can work hard and still improve. It’s a fairly safe and reliable return for your investment. 100 percent of the time if you do the work, you will get at least 1 percent better. Can you match those rates?

Seems that if you don’t know if you’ll have a job tomorrow, knowing that you can still participate in something productive and meaningful to you is worth the cost.

Don’t believe me that triathlon continues to grow while other markets fizzle? Here we go: I need to point no further than the Ironman announcement last week. How many immediately dropped over 500 bucks for an event taking place next May? I just saw an announcement that Ironman Utah is nearly full. It takes place over a year away!

Now think: how is the economy is hurting our sport?

From what I’ve seen, it’s not. There is a continued growth and participation – especially in Ironman. Why? How? And especially why Ironman which costs how many hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time it’s all said and done?

Ironman seems to be the ultimate example of what the sport does for people. Let’s recap: my job sucks, my manager is a chucklebucket, home life is stressful, the economy has tanked yet…I can still accomplish something. I crossed the line after 140.6 miles – it is a tangible accomplishment that tells me I am a good and worthy person. My life has meaning – again.

Know what I mean?

Simply put, we want what it means. I don’t think so much that people want to swim, bike, run 140.6 miles (really, ick) – they want what it means. What it means is so much more than what it actually is. What it is: expensive and painful. What it means: something more than just being out there for up to 17 hours and traveling 140.6 miles. It is like the little green mermaid on the Starbucks cup. She is more than just a mermaid on a coffee cup, she means more than a brand – she means opportunity, affluence, relaxation, an experience.

Bingo: Ironman has nailed the experience economy.

And that is why the sport will not die. Or at least Ironman will not die. The little races will suffer a bit yet the Ironman brand will continue to grow strong even as the economy fades. Ironman promises to deliver the ultimate in experience – you give us…what is it now, 550 bucks (?) and we give you the time of your life. We pit you against what feels like death at times. We have not only nailed the experience but brought in the physical. And that is what makes it powerful – it’s a physical draw. I mean, a Borders book store is also an experience (I don’t go there just for books, I go there for quiet, coffee, relaxation, to feel smart) – but Ironman? You will physically get tugged in a way that no book store will tug you. No cup of coffee in a sophisticated setting will make you feel this good. In Ironman you will find yourself faced with something epic and you have to respond. And if you get through it you will feel like your own hero. You overcame yourself. And that, in life, as far as an experience goes…is huge and cannot be replicated anywhere else – except perhaps sky diving (but trust me Ironman is much more bang for your buck, you are guaranteed up to 17 hours so in terms of miles per dollars I think it’s a better value).

Seems that with the state of the economy today, Ironman has it made. They have nailed the experience. People want an experience and if you can give it to them they will pay for it (look at Starbucks…). No one needs a 4 dollar cup of coffee but in our chaotic world they do need to feel like they are relaxing and treating themselves. People need Ironman. They need to feel like they have reached something big. The more tumultuous the world and the economy gets, the more they seek out experiences like this to find a purpose, validate their efforts, gain some control and accomplish something.

But that is just my two cents on my dime store blog. And according to today’s market, my two cents is currently worth about one-half of one cent. Remember when my views were worth a full penny?

Damn economy!

Know what I’m going to do because of that? I’m going to post a letter.

Here goes:

I’m cutting back on blogs because I cannot afford to think and communicate any more. I hope you’ll understand. I’ve had to make some cutbacks on the number of words that leave me each day because I suspect in an effort to make up for a $294092829 deficit the state of Illinois will start taxing my words with an added tax on the sassy ones.

Oh my good word help me. I better watch my mouth.