This summers hot triathlons

2010’s new races and new popularity


What do influential young entrepreneurs Hideaki Inoue (director of Park Corporation which owns Aoyama Flower Market), Masamichi Toyama (director of Smiles which founded Soup Stock Tokyo) and Kenichi Inamoto (director and president of Zetton, producer of brand restaurants) all have in common? The answer: they’re crazy about triathlons.

Triathlons: those gruelling races in which athletes swim, cycle and run their way to the finish line Long distance triathlons are said to have started back in 1977 when US Marines stationed in Hawaii had a drunken debate as to which race was the toughest – marathons, long distance swimming or road races. They decided to combine the three into one race to compare. These days the standard international distance (also called the Olympic distance) for a triathlon is a 1.5km swim, 40km ride and 10km run. With 51.5km covered in total, it’s one hard-as-nails race. So why would these young entrepreneurs want to put themselves through this?

Hideaki Inoue tells us, ‘Triathlons are all up to the individual. That’s one of the draws,’ On April 25 of this year Inoue competed in the Ishigaki Triathlon 2010, coming in with a time of 2:35:59. ‘Then it’s about strategising throughout the race. Just because someone is placed first at the end of the swim leg doesn’t meant they are going to be the first person past the finish line. Athletes need to work out when the best time to exert their energy is and when they should pass other competitors; it’s different for everyone. Triathletes race with one eye on the clock, thinking about when to save and store their energy. Strategising is really fun. I think this is what attracts most people to triathlons. The feeling you get when lining up on the start line before a race is different to any other sport. I’m 47 now and I want to be doing triathlons until I am 80. I want to get to number one in the world. If I continue until I am 90 I might just be able to get there,’ Inoue says with a laugh.

It seems like this appeal is starting to catch on with a host of new triathlon competitions ready to hit the water and roads this year. On Sunday July 11, the 2010 Tateyama Wakashio Triathlon will be held in Tateyama (Chiba), followed by Yokosuka West Coast Triathlon in Yokosuka (Kanagawa) on Saturday September 4 and Ironman 703 Centrair Tokoname Japan on Sunday September 19 in Tokoname (Aichi). Triathlete and sports host Taro Shirato explained, ‘There has been a demand for more competitions from awhile back and there have been many in the pipeline. But with triathlons really taking off in recent years, race organizers have started to make them a reality.’

With more competitions, there has also been an increase in the number of people getting together to train for them. One such group is the Aoyama Triathlon Club, launched on April 22, 2010. On weekdays the group prepares for competition using local facilities for swimming, cycling and running training, then on weekends they head to the beach to compete.

Many companies are also starting to get behind triathlons. Crocs Japan, whose theme for 2010 is ‘feel good revolution’, is just one of these companies. During the Ishigaki Triathlon 2010: Ishigaki Triathlon World Cup, Crocs Japan monitored athletes using the Crocs Prepair series shoes which are designed to be worn before and after exercise to help athletes better recover; they also provided Prepair shoes for athletes to test out. Triathlon team Alapa, among whose members include sales consultant and best selling writer Naoyuki Honda, (as well as company sales reps, doctors, lawyers and music producers) took advantage of this service and appeared relaxed after stepping into a pair of Prepairs at the end of the physically demanding race. Prepair series shoes can be purchased online from the Crocs website ( or visit the new Crocs Shibuya Spain-zaka store to check them out.

With triathlons covering up to a distance of 3.8km of swimming, 180km of cycling and 42.195km of running (for the ultra-distance races, such as Ironman) it might seem that they are only for hardcore athletes. However, not all competitions are the standard 51.5km; there are competitions of varying distances and even mini- triathlons for beginners wanting to give them a go. If you think that you might want to put yourself to the ultimate athletic test, get started by checking out Athlonia and the Aoyama Triathlon Club. Find a race that is suited to your ability and experience the fun of triathlons will be there for the taking.

2010 Tateyama Wakashio Triathlon

Yokosuka West Coast Triathlon

Ironman 703 Centrair Tokoname Japan

By Akiko Toya
Translated by E. Kavanagh
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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