I'm now starting to identify that my physiology is definitely more suited to the non draft format more than the ITU format. It is clear that I have a much better ability to sustain high consistent power outputs over large periods of time, of which is not 'relevant' in ITU, or not so relevant at least. Despite my 40km average power being higher in non-draft races than ITU races the requirements of ITU do not favour a rider of my type. What I really like about the developments of non-draft and half-distance events, as shown this weekend, is that you really need to carry no weakness over all 3 disciplines to come out on top. This trend I only see getting stronger over the years.
In terms of training approaches, not a lot has actually changed to be honest, of course we focus more now on the longer sustained efforts rather than short peak power accelerations, especially on the bike. Swim and run is very similar in terms of pace focus. Prior to the London 2012 Olympics we focused on efforts reflecting the ability to run 34 minute 10km, we still try and stay in contact with that type of effort.
Triple Crown, this is a huge opportunity, not just from a professional athletes perspective in terms of big prize money but in terms of growing the sport. I have long been frustrated with the lack of exposure in the sport. We as athletes and more so event organisations have an obligation to sponsors to provide them exposure. Irrelevant of what the minority might think we absolutely need this sport exposed and commercialised. Outside sponsors are looking for a way into this sport but they don't want to come near it when they lack any significant opportunity to get recognised. Only last year I spoke with a strong title sponsor of a world tour cycling team. His words to me at the time were pretty simple but pretty obvious, he got more eyeballs seeing his brand and hearing his story per $ spent than he could get in any other sport. Yet he acknowledged that triathlon was an incredible sport to be a part of. This showed me how much it meant that companies desire that exposure. Having heard a lot in Bahrain this weekend I really feel that Challenge understand what this sport needs, not from a business perspective but from a sporting perspective. I'm excited to follow the developments.
Regarding Bahrain and my experience as a woman, this is a great point and thank you for raising it. It should be noted that despite being supported to go to this race I actually opted to not stay in the race hotel for my own preparation reasons. I was in the capital, Manama, due to race start location, which was far more a populated area than the Sofitel location where all pros, and a large portion of age group athletes stayed. This likely exposed me more to the culture and people of Bahrain. We chose to rent a car, not relying on the chauffeur service plus we ate out most evenings. For me to feel more safe and suited to an foreign environment or new country I do a lot of research to find out if there are any cultural/religious rules or etiquette that you ought to follow. I do that to respect the new country and its people but more so for myself to feel prepared. I can say honestly that I felt Bahrain on the whole was far more westernised than you could expect. I did travel with my fiancé, Ben but not for the reason that I felt unsafe travelling there alone. Had Ben not been in a position to go I would still have gone alone and probably still put myself out of the pro support locations/services. Upon reflection of the 6 days we spent in Manama I would never discourage a female travelling to Bahrain to do that race and I would certainly go again. At the end of the day we are travelling into a new country and my feeling is that providing we know and respect they culture there is no reason to feel afraid. I'm expecting the same in reference to Dubai and Oman.
The two most important points that I wanted you to answer is expanding the sponsorship scope of triathlon outside of the endemic sponsors and traveling to Bahrain as a woman. I hope the latter appeases some of the concerns of my female age group friends.
On the "former", I was recently passing through Newark Airport and saw a massive wall size add for Tag Heuer and the NYC Marathon. I actually took a picture of that advertisement and sent it immediately to IM CEO Messick, because that is the type of thing that I feel our sport can aspire to. If NYC marathon can do it, so can triathlon. Watching a triathlon is as "boring" as watching a marathon. Both are participation sports, albeit running has a theoretical "wider reach". But let's not fool ourselves and sell triathlon short. It is perceived by the general participant as a higher "bar" for participation and in some way proving the participant has higher skill/versatility/determination/focus (even though we know that being say a 27 min 10K runner or an Olympic swimmer is outrageously crazy hard). If I asked the average person at the gym or the office they would say triathlon is a "higher achievement". So in that vein, I believe there is a positioning of our sport by race organizers and professional athletes to up sell what we offer to sponsors from outside the sport. I'd love to see the likes of Credit Suisse, Audi (OK they are at Bahrain), Apple, Ebay, Nissan, Rolex and their peers dive in with both feet and out compete each other to be part of triathlon. I think it is possible with the right packaging of the offering. The fact that watching long course triathlon is like watching paint dry is not that important. TV is the old media and even though it gets eyeballs, over time the internet will win over. In my son's generation, no one talks about what is going on in network TV. In my generation we did. They talk about what is in the media via the internet.
Non Endemic sponsors can see value in associating with a sport that is seen to be health oriented, a challenge, high performance, a lifestyle, and very competitive in nature. If I look at companies in my sector (technology), triathlon shows all of the values that we want either our products or our employees to have. The connections have to be made between triathlon and the VPs of Market and also VPs of HR who can likely leverage professionals like you as spokes people for companies.
Keep up the good work and I am glad that you see the opportunity in converting the race podiums into business opportunities for you and the sport. I think this is something that is largely lacking....and I think being a European athlete you actually have a better chance at that 'conversion' of potential non endemic sponsors to "real ones". Just today I was in a technology meeting in Europe with the CTO of a company. He spotted a tiny Ironman logo that I had with me and struck up a conversation related to that. That never happens in North America. There is generally more respect for endurance oriented athletics in Europe....and I might add in Europe the sporting superstars "look" like real people....footballers, tennis players, track athletes, skiers. US big sport, be it basketball-NFL-MLB-Ice Hockey, the type of athlete that dominates is a bohemoth that looks like the incredible hulk. This is actually important, because the main stream sponsors expect pro athletes in North America to look like jacked up comic book heros, whereas in Europe a triathlete who "looks" like a normal human falls into the category of what an athlete is expected to look like. Messi, looks no different than a short pro traithlete if we both put a suit on. Likewise many of the top WTA Pros look no different than a you and your peers. I think it is easier for you all to "fit in" to the pro athlete mould in Europe and bring non endemic sponsors in and wish you all the best to make this conversion that is long overdo, even though some age groupers claim you and your peers bring no value.