Why triathlon is booming?


This article originally appeared here. The triathlon phenomenon in the UK is somewhat similar in Malaysia, in terms of increasing numbers of triathletes. But, in our opinion, the triathlon here is still lacking on facilities, proper development and high quality races. These are not all bad news, these mean that there are lots of room for improvement in the sports development area, awareness and cultivating interest.

One of the most interesting sports phenomena of the past few years has been the new boom in triathlon, with race participation in the UK showing an increase of more than 300% in the past 5 years!


These are the crucial data that must be readily available. But the only way to get this data (for now) is to browse to each registration websites and wait for the results to be published to see the numbers of participants. In order to grow this sport (and any other sports), such data need to be collected, compiled and analyzed. From these numbers, we can actually predict the growth/decline figures. This data can also be used for brands to measure the possible ROI from this sports, and for organizers for future races planning.

Who are the best party to kick start on this? We can only say, it’s the duty of national level association.

Triathlon is, of course, a new sport, with the first recorded triathlon only taking place on September 24, 1974. It was organized by the San Diego Track and Field Club at Mission Bay, and consisted of 5.3-mile run, a 5-mile bike ride, and a 600 yard swim in the ocean.

Just a few years later (1978) the first Ironman race was held, capturing the public’s attention and starting the first triathlon boom. The sport is now showing huge growth worldwide, with the Olympic races from Sydney and Beijing being among the most watched events on the Olympic calendar. The ITU (International Triathlon Union) now sanctions over 100 events worldwide every year, with the 2009 World Cup series including 12 events in major cities and destinations around the globe.

One of our athlete, Veron Uhen during her bike leg in recent IM70.3 in Nagoya
One of our athlete, Veron Uhen during her bike leg in recent IM70.3 in Nagoya

Here in the UK, the London Triathlon has grown from 1,000 to 11,000 competitors in just over ten years, with organizers reporting that more and more people are signing up every year.

Again, we don’t have the exact figures in hand to show quantitatively. But from social media posts, and from experience selling expensive triathlon suit, we can tell that the numbers of people who are already into triathlon, and triathlete wannabe is increasing. They do not have to be high performing athlete, but the triathlete have begun to be more of a lifestyle and awareness on being fit and healthy.

So why is triathlon so popular? To the casual observer it can seem like a torture fest – particularly when you see TV coverage of an Ironman race – so why do so many people do it? There are several reasons.

National triathlete, Irene Chong done with her swim leg at ASTC Singapore on 16th July. She got 4th place in elite category
National triathlete, Irene Chong done with her swim leg at ASTC Singapore on 16th July. She got 4th place in elite category
  • It is the ultimate cross training workout:We are all being encouraged to put more variety into our training, to try some different things. Triathlon is the ultimate expression of that – triathletes swim, bike and run every week, ensuring that they always have a varied workout program.
  • Everyone’s a winner:The three disciplines mean that people who are not great at any one event can compete in all three. It’s more interesting, and allows a greater variety of people to participate.
  • It’s more interesting:Because there are three sports to master, or at least become reasonably good at, the training is much more interesting than just running, swimming or cycling.
  • You can push yourself:Because simply finishing an event is seen as an achievement, it’s a great opportunity to test your limits. Just crossing the finish line – no matter your place in the field – can be a hugely rewarding experience, and is what keeps thousands of middle (and back) of the pack racers coming back for more.
  • Health benefits:Because they are doing three different sports, triathletes can avoid many of the injuries that single sports athletes – such as runners or swimmers – fall prey to. In addition, training for a triathlon is a great cardiovascular workout, and can help to build and maintain good muscle tone.

Surprisingly, you don’t have to spend hours every day training in order to complete a race. There are races of all different lengths, and if you choose a short race, you can dip your toe in the water with as little as four to six hours of training a week. Why not give it a go?