Triathlons test the mettle of the middle-aged athlete

Tue Sep 2, 2014 10:36am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Triathlons, the swim-bike-run races of varying lengths, are scaling the bucket lists of many middle-aged athletes, according to U.S. fitness experts.

Multi-tasking, ego-boosting, and far from cheap, the competitions cater to different levels of fitness while rewarding endurance over speed, and cardiovascular versatility over single-minded focus.

“It’s not about who goes the fastest, it about who slows down the least,” said Connecticut-based running coach Tom Holland, 45, who has run more than 50 triathlons.

Holland, the author of “The 12-Week Triathlete" said as people get older they are willing to bide their time and to pace themselves.

He added that generally it is the older people who win the competitions.

“The older athlete has built endurance that one just doesn’t have at 20,” he explained.

USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body in the United States, said the 40 to 44 age group comprises the highest percentage of its members and just over 30 percent of its annual membership base.

“It’s an attainable challenge,” explained Lindsay Wyskowski of USA Triathlon. “People embrace the sport and continue on for years because even within it there are different distances.”   Continued...

Runners and bikers compete in the 34th annual Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco, California June 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Noah Berger