I had the privilege to be part of the Press team for the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships held in Melbourne, Australia on March 25, one of the more important of approximately 30 Ironman events this year in the lead up to the World Championships in Hawaii in October. The Pro triathletes were out in force, led by 3-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander and 10-time New Zealand Ironman Champion Cameron Brown. I wasn’t there, however, to report on the event. Instead, I was there to report on what the athletes were wearing, riding and eating.
If you’ve run an Ironman, or a triathlon in general, you know how much potential gear and nutritional products are involved. Swimwear, goggles, wetsuits, bicycles, cycling apparel, shoes and helmets, running apparel and running shoes, compression gear both during the event and for recovery, training tools such as bicycle trainers, and an assortment of GPS technologies and sport watches. If you then think of how many companies design, manufacture and sell that gear, the list is long. Brooks, BlueSeventy, 2XU, Rudy Project, BV Sport, Profile Design, On Running, ORCA, Giant, ISM Saddles, Continental cycling tires, Trek, Shimano, Laser Helmets, CompuTrainer, SOAS, Zoot, PowerBar, Gatorade, Timex and Yurbuds helped either sponsor the Melbourne event or were there in a Exposition set up for athletes and the public.Not only do Ironman competitions give Outdoor companies exposure, the triathletes involved give companies a chance to test high-end product. Many of the Pros are sponsored, providing feedback after training sessions and suggesting design changes that improve the gear that eventually becomes available for retail. At Southern Ascent, we’ve recruited Phil Sawyer, in training for the 2013 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships, to help test an assortment of all this triathlon and ironman gear, so we can bring those gear reviews to you.
Ultimately, though, an Ironman is an incredible test of human endurance, regardless of the gear you choose. You only have to stand behind the finishing line to see how tough such an event really is. At the Melbourne Ironman, wrapped in a commemorative finishers towel, every competitor seemed to be walking delicately, some dazed and confused, others needing assistance to stand up, a few propped up in wheelchairs helped by ambulance crews. Well-made, well-fitting gear can give you a significant advantage, but like any outdoor adventure, the end result will still depend on you.