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When You Take Your Coach, PT and Chef to Your Ironman
By John Post in
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The Name Game - a great rainy day/snowy day work out.
All you have to do is perform the exercise corresponding to each letter of your first, middle and last names. Rest 15 seconds between letters. Repeat if you can....or if it's still raining.
To all who are participating in the
, WELL DONE. We only have 9 more days. With February comes the sweet smell of that IPA and the Superbowl. Good job athletes.
Some of your early season work outs not going the way you want? I was told at the gym yesterday by Coach Emily that
"sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs...."
She simply meant that not every swim or bike will be a break through experience but if you can slog it out in the early season, when the leaves do return to the trees this spring and you're planning the carpool for the local sprint triathlon, suddenly it's all worth it.
Not so much much slogging that your form goes by the wayside though.
Earlier this year there was an intriguing article in the NY Times titled:
"When Amateur Ironmen Pay for the Elite Treatment."
A 2015 survey conducted for the World Triathlon Corporation — the Tampa, Fla.-based organizers of Kona and other Ironman races — found that the average annual household income for Ironman participants is $247,000. USA Triathlon, the largest multisport organization in the world, says the average income for all triathletes, including those at shorter distances, is $126,000.
When Marc Blumencranz had an opportunity to compete in the 2013 Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, he spared no expense in his preparations to go the distance.
His outlays for the race — known simply as “Kona” among triathletes — went far beyond a wet suit and a new pair of handlebars for his racing bike. To help acclimate to the Hawaiian heat, he rented a house on Kailua-Kona’s fashionable Ali’i Drive, as well as a block of hotel rooms for the 10 days leading up to the race. He also hired a private chef to prepare his meals, then flew to Hawaii and housed not only his wife and daughter, but also his coach, massage therapist and physical therapist.
Total estimated cost: $100,000.
“My first reaction was, ‘You don’t need to do that,’” says Jose L. Lopez of Long Island Tri Coach, based in Mineola, who guided Mr. Blumencranz through the intensive, 10-week buildup to Kona. “I said, ‘I can still train you; I don’t need to be in Hawaii.’ He said, ‘I want you to be there with me.’”
Mr. Blumencranz, now 52, is a managing director for BWD, a large, privately held
brokerage and wealth-management firm in Plainview, N.Y. But his career success hardly makes him an anomaly in the sport. At events like Kona, it is not hard to find affluent competitors willing and able to put serious dollars behind their long-distance dreams.
Kona race volunteer aiding an athlete with last minute pre-race bike needs
“I don’t know if it’s a rich person’s sport, but it’s certainly an upscale person’s sport,” says Dr. Steven Jonas, a professor of public health at Stony Brook University, a longtime triathlete and the author of the best-selling book “Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals.” “To run a marathon, you need a pair of shoes, a pair of shorts and maybe a water bottle. To do a triathlon, you need a lot more.”
Free-spending amateur endurance athletes often pay for more than gear. To gain entry to Kona in 2015, Michael Berland, head of the political polling and analytics firm Edelman-Berland, made a winning bid on a charity slot.
The Ironman Foundation, the charitable arm of the World Triathlon Corporation, funds a number of local initiatives, including youth organizations in Hawaii. Each year, the foundation auctions four spots in the race.
“My wife and I decided this would be our philanthropy for 2015,” says Mr. Berland, 47, who lives in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. To make sure he got in, he made what he called “a pre-emptive bid” of $50,200.
“It’s what I wanted to do,” Mr. Berland says of his expenditure. “It helps kids in Hawaii, and it got me into the race.”
large portion of successful business people involved in endurance sports isn’t surprising, considering the personality traits they tend to share. These, says Dr. Michael Sachs, a sport psychologist at Temple University, include “high levels of motivation, goal orientation, mental toughness. They also realize that in order to be successful, they need to maintain physical and mental health, and one of the best ways to do that is exercise.”
In addition, he says, there’s a “coolness” factor. “If you’re wearing a
T-shirt or an Ironman finisher’s jacket, those are credentials you can’t buy. You have to earn it.”
Ironman distance triathlons are not the only events that attract Type A endurance athletes. In the last five years, Jeff Adams, 56, a retired
Morgan Stanley executive living in Elkhorn, Wis., has run in 20 marathons around the world, including New York, Boston, London, Tokyo and even Antarctica.
Mr. Adams estimates that his pursuit of running and fitness — including the cost of travel to his various races, his gym memberships and so forth — has cost him $50,000 a year over the last five years. But he ticks off what he calls his “return on my running investment,” including improved health, weight loss and the opportunity for adventurous travel.
Women, even successful women, are less likely to be found jetting around the globe or spending significant amounts of money in pursuit of their training and racing goals. “I don’t know many women who are high powered and wealthy and who are also endurance athletes who would go to these extremes,” says the former professional triathlete Lee DiPietro, 57, of Delray Beach, Fla., and author of “Against the Wind: An Ironwoman’s Race for Her Family’s Survival.” But she said that could change.
For his costly 2013 effort, Mr. Blumencranz dutifully did all his training leading up to Kona, the pinnacle of swim-run-bike sport — a one-day 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon through the island’s torrid, wind-swept lava fields. Qualifying was difficult: Although he had twice completed the Ironman distance race in Lake Placid, N.Y., Mr. Blumencranz is not an elite athlete.
“I never saw myself doing Kona,” he admitted. Until, that is, a business associate dropped a word to a high-ranking executive with one of the race sponsors. Mr. Blumencranz, who lives in Old Brookville, N.Y., was then offered a Kona spot. He was thunderstruck. “I told my golf friends that, for me, getting the opportunity to race at Kona was like playing Augusta during the Masters.”
On race day, Oct. 12, with his coach cheering him on, Mr. Blumencranz finished in 13 hours 19 minutes 56 seconds — far from the professional triathlete Frederik Van Lierde’s winning time of 8:12:29, but also comfortably removed from the mandatory cutoff time of 17 hours.
He felt that having his friends and support crew on hand made a difference. “It was like having Team Marc there,” said Mr. Blumencranz.
Dr. Jonas applauds Mr. Blumencranz’s generosity and determination in bringing his support team to Kona in 2013, but isn’t sure of its effect. “If he’d spoken to me, I would have told him, ‘you’ll probably finish in about the same time without all that.’”
Besides, money can’t buy the satisfaction of true competition. “You cannot buy a finish,” says Dr. Jonas. “It’s what’s inside you.”
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