Do You Give a Sh**? – The consumer triathlete
By now you have realised that I am pretty vocal about what I think are the current state of affairs with endurance sport (in particular triathlon). I’ve watched the sport grow from a grassroots, roll up them sleeves sport, to a high-level consumer industry focused heavily on products, increased race fees, increased consumer spending – all driven by the growth in popularity of the sport.
Part of my frustration is this:
All of the new gear, new tech, new R&D, new brands, all feeds something that is turning away from a sport that celebrated athleticism and the ability to endure and is now focused on
“How many ways can we get people to buy our shit”.
And, of course, I have been a direct part of that; without athletes, endurancecollab (in the triathlon space at least) would be dead. I have partially contributed towards where the sport is today – and so have you.
It’s not all bad. There is so much about the sport of triathlon that I love. But there is that ugly cloud growing larger each year – which makes me then question: when will it end?
The better question is this:
Who will make it better?
You & me.
It certainly won’t be the industry. It won’t be the governing body of the sport. It won’t be the big companies and their marketing team.
You & me.
The change had already started. Remember when all we (thought) we knew about endurance fuelling was that you crammed as much as you could into your mouth without any forethought? Like we didn’t really care where it came from – natural or packet, locally sourced or mass-produced – just get that food in my belly.
But now, we see athletes starting to give a shit about what they put in their bodies. We are moving away from the “I don’t care just feed me”, to the “I give a crap about what I fuel with”.
And it goes beyond that. People are starting to care about how they eat; where it’s from, how it was prepared, is it nutritionally dense (or just garbage).
We are starting to give a shit.
We are starting to care more about ourselves – which is awesome because when we do that, we start to look after what we have better.
When I moved to Noosa, I fell in love immediately. The council goes to great lengths to keep our region rubbish free. But over the last few years, as the riding number has increased, so too has the lack of respect from cyclists runners (and swimmers!) and the litter they carry during training.
I used to boast to West Coast friends how I had never seen a gel packet on a trail, nor a busted inner tube on the side of the road. But now, it’s everywhere. If you were to run through Noosa’s National Park right now, I guarantee you will see an empty gel packet. Likewise on any other hinterland ride loops.
If it’s happening here – in a place with such high regard for the environment – then what is it like for my city friends? Worse.
I jumped onto the famed river loop in Brisbane last year and watched more than one cyclist negligently toss their wrapper into the bushes. A lady got a flat: she left the punctured tube in the gutter and proceeded to mock me because I called her out on it (she also got a very lovely spray for her troubles).
Who cleans that up? She wasn’t going back for it. It’s someone else’s problem – right? And, imagine how many motorists watched her do that and thought: bloody cyclists (like we need further reasons for confrontation)!
Over the weekend as I was hitting the local trails on my bike, I watched members of a visiting Tri Club toss their rubbish DIRECTLY down the hill I was about to ride on.
They clearly didn’t give a shit.
The point I am trying to make is that we as endurance athletes are consumers – and that’s OK. We are keeping an industry alive (and it’s worth noting, turning some healthy profits for companies).
But we can be conscious consumers.
We can think about what our impact has on where we live, how that affects others – especially those who choose not to partake in endurance sports.
Have you ever thought about what goes into the production of your sweet carbon ride? Or your killer kit? Or you water bottles, tyres, shoes, race belts?
Does it matter?
Heck yes, it does.
I am not suggesting we all stop buying gear, but let’s create a better awareness as to what that means for those who want to be still racing in the future.
The thoughtless and impulsiveness is filling our trails with crap. What will those trails be like in 10years? Will your kids be running on them?
Do you think local councils will still want to have races their roads and in their oceans/ lakes if we continue being complete dicks and throwing our race trash on course?
It’s time to start giving more of a shit about how we look after ourselves, where we train and how our love for endurance endeavours affects the rest of the world.
We can certainly make triathlon great again (yep, it still has legs) but we can do the right thing by everyone along the way.
Oh and if you seriously couldn’t give a shit? There’s a handy unsubscribe button for you below.