I don’t mind when the elite athletes poke a little fun at us age groupers. After all, we can be easy targets. Just take a look around when you are in the transition area of your next race. You will see some of the age groupers decked out in high-end gear, aero helmets, and super expensive bikes. Often, those same age groupers are the ones finishing at the back of the pack. That’s ok, it’s their money. But you can see the irony there.
I follow many of the elite athletes and related organizations on social media. I understand that social media is supposed to be fun and many of the posts are supposed to make us laugh. I follow several people, including some of the elite athletes, because they occasionally make me laugh. But you have to wonder if some of these guys are saying things tongue-in-cheek or if they are really serious.
Here is a recent tweet:
With follow-up comments from some of his followers like:
“…or even better % of marathon walked” “Yes!” and “love this”
Several years ago I told my daughters, if I ever finished an IronMan I would get the Mdot tattoo. I finished #IMAZ last year. I was extremely proud of my accomplishment (and, by the way, I did not walk any of the marathon). I have not gotten the tattoo. According to Starykowiez, sounds like I need a qualifying time.
I’m a fan of the pro athletes. When Starykowiez complained about the age groupers getting in his way at #IMAZ during the bike, I got it. I was on the course that day and those age groupers needed to move over. I certainly did. I was streaming IM Texas earlier this year and watched Starykowiez blazing the course until he pulled up on the run for a DNF. I felt bad for him.
I respect the elite athletes and what they do. They are amazing. But sometimes I wonder whether some of those athletes have any respect for what us age groupers do. I have two points on this.
Most of us age groupers have full-time jobs. Triathlon is a hobby. So when we commit to doing an IM, we have to carve out the training time. I typically work 45-50 hours a week and I have a fairly brutal work travel schedule. It is not unusual for me to be finishing a training session at 9 PM. I’m typically up again early the next day heading in for my 10 hr work day, squeezing in my next workout where I can. I often think, wow I’ll bet I could be so much faster if I didn’t have this pesky job and I had more time to train. Who knows, I might even be able to achieve the Mdot tattoo qualifying time.
So when many of us age groupers cross the finish line of an IronMan, it is a major accomplishment-and most of us don’t care about our finishing time (at least not the first one).
The second point is that IronMan would likely not exist if it weren’t for the age groupers. These races happen, in large part, because of the hefty entry fees that thousands of us age groupers pay. If we are not paying the entry fees, do you think there would be a race at all?
Unfortunately for the pros, our sport is different in that you don’t have a major pro circuit that provides “pro-exclusive” races like other sports do. That means the main way that the pros get to compete (and earn money from sponsors and prize purses) is they have to “mix it up” with the age groupers. I actually think it is pretty cool. It allows the pros to build bigger fan bases, sponsors get more exposure, and the sport grows. That’s good for all of us.
So I apologize that us age groupers are sometimes an inconvenience. And sometimes we are a little overzealous in our triathlon pursuits. But we have the same passion as the pros do about our sport.
Now I’m in a real quandary about the tattoo. Does a 12:46 IM for a 54 year old first timer qualify for the Mdot? And what about that promise I made to my daughters (which I kind of regret making). What should I do?