Define Yourself In Endurance Sports

Define yourself in endurance sports and don’t let somebody else do it for you

By Jason Bahamundi (

 Recently there was some banter in the blog world regarding joggers versus runners. This discussion was prompted by a post from Julie Reyes of The Hotlegs Runner and an ad by Pearl Izumi. The headline of the ad is ‘WE ARE NOT JOGGERS’ and continues on to discuss running and jogging and essentially makes light of jogging. This led me to thinking about the sport of triathlon and all the varied distances. There are sprint triathlons, Olympic distance triathlons, Half Ironman and Ironman triathlons. Do triathletes view each other differently? Does an Ironman think that a sprint triathlete is not in the same realm?

The WTC announced a new series of triathlon races called the 5150 series which is a series of Olympic distance events. An Olympic triathlon consists of a 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run. When you add up the numbers you get to 51.5k (31.9 miles) thus the 5150 series. If you are at all familiar with the Ironman races then you know that the Half Ironman distance is 1.6k swim, 90.1k bike and 21k run, while the Ironman distance is double that.

So does the person who has done the Iron-distance think that completing an Olympic or Sprint triathlon is any less and would a company that creates products for such events come right out and say that you are not a triathlete if you don’t do 140.6? The time that it takes to train for a 140.6 mile race is very high and some just don’t have the time or the opportunity to do that, so are they any less then a 140.6 finisher? I think not, I think that person is a triathlete. I think that once you finish all three stages in the same day that you are a triathlete. Notice I did not say in an hour for a sprint or 2 hours for an Olympic.

I think the difference lies in being called an Ironman. When I discuss my quest to compete at 70.3 Ironman California I make a clear distinction that it is not an Ironman and that it is ‘only’ 70.3 miles compared to the 140.6. I have a ton of respect for anybody that goes out and trains and competes no matter the distance but I also believe that 140.6 is special and should be viewed that way.

During my typical day of reading blog after blog after blog I came across one of my favorites in Kristin White aptly titled Kristin is an amateur whose ability has put her on the podium at 70.3 Syracuse. She finished first in her age group, first amateur and 3rd overall female. You then go on to see that in 2010 she competed in sprint triathlons prior to 70.3 Syracuse and after she posted great results at Buffalo Springs. This past October Kristin raced in Kona where she was 5th in her age group and the 36th overall female. Does the fact that Kristin raced in Kona make her a triathlete? I don’t think so, I think what made her a triathlete was competing in a triathlon and finishing.

This topic was approached by Lisa Barnes (whose blog is in Lava Magazine on October 20, 2010. The article discusses essentially the same thing in that a triathlete is a triathlete regardless of distance. The comments on the article however go beyond that and one idea I thought to be terrific. If you do a 5150 event then maybe you should get an orange colored M-Dot tattoo should you choose. Do a 70.3 and it would be blue. Do the full 140.6 and the Red M-Dot is yours to flash to family, friends and strangers. This creates a distinction but does not say that you are not a triathlete like the Pearl Izumi ad points out that joggers are not runners.

My belief is that you become a triathlete when you cross the finish line of a triathlon regardless of distance. You are on your way to becoming a triathlete when you wake up at 4:30am to go to the pool to swim. You are on your way when you dial up your Garmin to record your heart rate while on your bike. You are on your way with each foot step of a planned brick and are missing family time. When you toe the line at the start of a triathlon you know that in due time you will cross that finish line and will be considered a triathlete.

I found the ad by Pearl Izumi offensive at first because if you are moving your legs faster then walking then you’re a runner no matter how the ad cares to describe you. The point of getting out there and moving is to lead a healthy and happy lifestyle and to interject an opinion that joggers are not runners may send people home and not have them reach the pinnacle of the finish line regardless of how fast they went.

I then read it again and thought to myself are they just trying to be provoking and getting people to discuss their advertisement. The saying that there is no such thing as bad press might have been their goal. If that is the case then they accomplished this because at last check the blog post by The Hotlegs Runner had 15 comments. People are talking and thus their goal accomplished, but of course there are plenty of people who are saying they won’t buy the brand.

I am reminded of the gentleman that I see week in and week out at White Rock Lake here in Dallas. The man must be in his late 70’s or early 80’s and he goes around the 9 mile loop at his pace. He has his earphones in and his Garmin watch and is probably shuffling at a 15 minute per mile pace. Would the executive who approved the message say that he is not a runner? In my book I want to be that man. I want to be in my 70s and 80s still shuffling around a 9 mile loop and sweating and knowing that I’m living a healthy lifestyle no matter what anybody calls me because in the end I am an inspiration.

Running is not just defined as moving your legs fast in my mind. It is defined in how you live your life. Do you get enough rest, do you train, do you smile and have fun, do you watch your nutrition? If you answered yes to those questions then you are a runner and I don’t care about your pace because you are doing something more then just sitting back and watching the world go by.

Be good to your body and your body will be good to you. So go put on your running shoes or cycling helmet and get out there and tackle as many miles as you want at whatever speed you want. You are a runner or a triathlete in my book.
Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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