Yo, like all triathletes, this topic has kept me busy pretty much all year since March and therefore the outbreak of the pandemic. What events will be on and how will they look like?
Well, i found out first hand at Slovakman and Austria Triathlon Podersdorf how the near to mid term future of events will probably look like.
The events will have barely no spectators. the transition will be sealed off for competitors only. Less touch points at aid stations, self service basically. no race briefing, just online. no awards dinner or party. no other social functions or carbo load party. limited number of participants. bigger surface requirement for race village and transition facilities due to social distancing. social distancing and mask at all times requirement for participants until the gun goes off. no more mass starts, at most races there will time trial chase start, which gives the race again a different dynamic. because people are put and outright scared to help at an event where they are exposed to a multitude of people you will have lesser volunteers. most triathlon events could not exist without volunteers. registration is done by delivery or with gloves mask only. there needs to be a thorough COVID protection plan in place. also once a competitor finishes the race, no hanging around. leave the area.
you pretty much get the picture and by now pretty much all of us have witnessed how this works. Luckily for me, so far the 2 races i have done in the COVID period were very well organized, since the events are longstanding events, the people in charge know their shit and do it well. Will everyone do it well? that remains to be seen. It is possible to do it well, but both organizers and athletes need to work together well and especially athletes need to be reasonable and use their brains and be responsible.
all in all, in my opinion, the sport has returned to somewhat a more raw version of itself. it is just really a competition and lesser a celebration. the social factor is pretty much left out. for me personally, i like the raw format as it keeps the eyes on what it really is – a sport event where results matter. in the general picture, however, not quite sure if people find triathlon really attractive, i think they might be put off more since it is much more clinical. i remember when i did 8.08.00 in Austria and came through the finish, there was no applause you could hear the crickets. but for me it does not matter. for advertisers and sponsors Mass participation events have become very unattractive since there are no spectators. no spectators no sponsors, and that is not advantageous for our sport.
also due to pandemic being extremely prone to spreading in urban areas, most competition locations around the world will have to be rethought and relocated to less denser areas i.e the countryside and rural areas. now logistics become more expensive, travel if possible more expensive and since there are lesser competitors you have higher costs and in the end the price per head will go up. Not that good. but that is the way it is.
I really do not envy the guys and girls at Ironman now. Besides the challenges that a pandemic has on the human side, the challenges for basically the sole provider of a large number of races that matter plus the Kona showcase, has a lot fires to put out. They are pretty much without revenue for the whole year and will be for the foreseeable future. Also since their business model is based on unrestricted world wide travel, they are faced with a couple of swords dangling dangerously close to their head. Efficient event logistics will become hugely important for them in the near future to tackle the events that need to shift to other locations, if that is even possible.
Ironman is financially on solid ground. But what about the others, Challenge, and smaller operators? i don’t even wanna know.
Surely, the seas are stormy at the moment. even very stormy. but what remains is the true spirit of the sport, a somewhat reduced amount of comradery, the passion of each and every triathlete to keep it going. We will prevail.
In that sense, keep it up. stay positive. eat more vegetables.
Cheers from Dubai