Ironman vs. Triathlon

Even if you’re just getting started in triathlons you’re probably aware that there are triathlons, and there are Ironman triathlons. Ironman is nothing more than a brand name that manages various products and licenses its brand for certain triathlon events. Events sanctioned by the Ironman brand sell out fast and cost a lot more than other triathlons because they give participants the bragging rights to be able to say “I did an Ironman race the other day…” which sounds more impressive than just “I did a triathlon the other day.” It’s similar to the difference between going to college and going to Harvard.

Actually, there’s much less of a difference, because there’s arguably a difference between most colleges and Harvard, whereas there is virtually no difference between a normal triathlon and an Ironman triathlon other than the Ironman brand being slapped on everything. The Gatorade is the same, the Powerbars are the same, and the volunteers are just as good in either type of event. Running 26.2 miles in an Ironman is no different than running 26.2 miles in any other triathlon, or is it?

I did the Oceanside Ironman 70.3 in March of this year. There is no other triathlon that goes over the same terrain. And even if I had done another triathlon with the same distances in the same location, it would be kind of weird to say “I did a half-Ironman in Oceanside” as opposed to “I did the Oceanside half-Ironman.” Personally, that’s worth something to me, and evidently it is for a lot of other people as well.

Just the same, I’d like to see more triathlons, Ironman or not. If I had my druthers I’d be doing a triathlon every month. But there simply aren’t enough of them to fit my schedule. Hopefully, as the NY Times article I referenced says, triathlons are growing in popularity and that will result in more races.