Douchebags! The series

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.

9 Responses

  1. Heh. I find coverage of triathlons amusing – it seems closer to reality television than to sport. Instead of real-time coverage, it’s a montage of designated “key moments” and special interest stories. Narrated by some dude with a deep voice.

    The leisurely walking through the finish line bugs me — I believe that one of the worst habits a runner can have is to relax before the finish. And that’s a standard practice for triathletes. I wonder if anyone’s ever been outkicked that way.

    You’re right though: we are all douchebags in someone else’s eyes.

  2. I do think it happens sometimes in big races. The recent example that comes to mind was Andrea Pirtea of Romania getting passed by Berhane Adere as she was prematurely celebrating her “win” in Chicago in 2007.

  3. On a related note, I got spammed for this a few months ago. My eyes kept rolling and rolling:

    Particularly this line, from the FAQ:

    “Sally Edwards, the Series’ Chief Inspiration Officer, will cross the finish line with final racer, as everyone who crosses the finish line is a first place winner, in the eyes of this triathlon legend.”

  4. Lauren Sieben is no friend of mine. Just because I am a runner doesn’t mean I don’t eat baking chocolate in slothful moments. Luckily for me, being a runner in NYC means I can frequently spot the trannies while I am out for a run!

    And also: swimming? What the fuck is up with that?

  5. “What does it take to beat Julie Threlkeld? The ability to swim.” Lol! That arms-crossed badass thing is so old, and now it’s Football season, which means posturing out the wazoo. ::rollseyes::

  6. Let me guess: Universal Sports looking for Berlin?

    Since I can barely swim, we’d be like one of the Monty Python Twit-of-the-Year races when the gun went off (and didn’t one of those twits get killed by that gun?)

    And that Lauren Sieben, putting aside the equating of jogging with running, is clueless. Running has never been cool.

  7. I can swim! How about a triathlon Julie?

    We’re actually having a Toyotathon now. Since the US went 700 trillion into debt Toyota have been struggling to sell their cars.

    As an afternoon runner, I thought “20 miles at the ass-crack of dawn” was a good line.

  8. totally hilarious! i too watched both of those. im on an ironman kick and tape all that i can find on Universal S network. have you ever watched the Julie Moss coverage of her ironman in the early 80’s?

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