This weekend I watched two recorded iron man triathlon events, one in China and the other in Idaho. People, televised triathlons offer some of the best television comedy you’ll see all season. Here’s what you get:
Announcers and competitors alike who can’t even properly pronounce the name of their own sport. They call it a “triathalon.” Like telethon. Or Toyotathon. Even the winners do this. Imagine if I went on and on about my maronathons?
And speaking of the winners, in triathlons, everyone’s a winner! It doesn’t matter if you cross the finish line first or 401st — they’ll hold up a little tape for you to…
…walk through! Yes, no one actually runs through the tape. After all, it’s only a marathon they’re finishing (which most of us consider a running event). Why run when you can meander through the tape after high-fiving both sides of the crowd for the last 30 meters?
Swimmers, slathered in what appears to be Hellman’s mayonnaise, rolling around in the grass, fighting to get their wetsuits off, sometimes with the aid of mysteriously enthusiastic volunteers. Bicyclists throwing up prodigiously while maintaining a steady 25mph speed.* Runners walking. And walking. And walking. Did you know that you can walk a lot in a triathlon and still win?
Textbook instruction on bad running form. Triathletes run like they’ve got giant staples in their backs. Bunched shoulders, arms held way out at 45 degrees from the body, no stride length. No wonder they’re too exhausted to run by the halfway point.
Even better, the coverage seems specifically designed to make the competitors look like douchebags. In the mini profiles, they’re shot from below, told to cross their arms and look like mean badasses. Then they’re forced to refer to themselves in the third person: “What does it take to beat Julie Threlkeld? The ability to swim.”
Best of all, I now understand how the average non-running viewer looks at televised marathons. The tedium. The suffering. The pointlessness of it all. We’re all douchebags in someone’s eyes.
*Unfortunately, there was no Technicolor spewing in either of these two particular events. You need to wait for the hot weather events for that.