Is there a “type” of person that tends to do triathlon?

By Mark Wilson
Hudson Valley Triathlon Club

Mark H. Wilson-Professional Triathlon Coach & Founder of the Hudson Valley Triathlon Club (HVTC) coaches athletes to the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, Ironman 70.3 World Championship, ITU Long Course World Championship, ITU Age Group Duathlon World Championship, and ITU Age Group Sprint/Olympic Triathlon World Championship. For more information: or 845.679.8602.

Triathlon Event Is there a triathlete mold? Is there a “type” of person that tends to do triathlon? Or, is triathlon one of those enigmas that allows and invites ALL types of folks to enjoy the same benefits that swimming, biking and running offer? There’s talk of the “Type A” personality and intensity that triathletes exude; however, aren’t there gentler souls drawn to triathlon, too? And, just because they’re mild mannered doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not tough-as-nails competitive! Let’s go deeper.

I have been blessed to coach athletes from extremely different backgrounds, ethnicities and abilities. Their occupation adds an even greater disparity making the likelihood of their participating in the same sporting event practically impossible; or does it? The truth is, triathlon brings all types of folks together; non-athletes, collegiate runners, garbage men, doctors, former addicts, mothers, children, grandmothers and grandfathers…the list goes on. Why is this so?!

The reason triathlon brings such differing people together is threefold; fear, challenge and sex-appeal. Most individuals attempting to do their first triathlon have a fear of swimming in open water; not everyone, of course, but the vast majority of folks would rather have the race director announce, “due to in climate weather, we’re gonna have a Duathlon; run-bike-run.”

They jump for joy knowing they can pack the wetsuit back into the car for next month’s race. “Whew, that was close” they say. Fear humbles people; and that feeling draws a person into something they really don’t want to do, but with the encouragement of friends and family, they literally jump into that dark, deep, cold, slimy, beast-filled lake because of the honor and joy they will experience to have completed the task; swim, bike, run.

Challenge is the second part to the triad; if it wasn’t tough, nobody would do it. Of course, that seems odd; why would someone want to do something that was so hard?! Well, so you can tell your buddies at work you did it, e-mail your family members your photos and impress your kids with how far you went. The best is when people ask, “And, how many days did you take to complete it?” Of course, this is referring to an Ironman, but that’s the view that many non-triathletes have about our sport; since it has 3 sports, it must take “at least” one day to finish the sprint triathlon. Not!

Lastly, the all-time most enticing reason why triathlon attracts such an eclectic range of individuals is; sex-appeal. Picture this; ripped bodies, tight uniforms, and permission to walk around for hours while “recovering.” Now THAT’S going to draw a few additional people to the next club meeting and local event. Incredibly, triathlon is becoming a more dominant spectator sport due to the fact that, with no cost of admission, you can hang-out and cheer-on several hundred half naked competitors as they push hard, collapse and then stroll around the park collecting their gear; all while you and your family enjoy your post-church picnic. Brilliant…who needs football?!?!

The bottom line is triathlon brings-out the best in people from ALL walks of life. It encourages and fosters the humanity in each of us; things frighten us and yet we still want to “see how it ends;” we know it’s gonna be difficult yet we struggle-on to gain courage and learn about who we are; and, we humans love a good view. What do they say in real estate; location, location, location? Yeah, that’s it; now, where’s that Ab Cruncher?! See ya out there! Recommended Resources:


Swim: – Get the low-down on gear, workouts and read tips for training and events.

Bike: – Learn how to structure bike workouts, find safety tips and read recommendations on great bike gear.

Run: – Get the ultimate skinny on running sneakers, running gear, safety tips and much more.

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