There was a time, not too long ago, when triathlon and multisport growth was in the red. “Triathlon participation in Ontario started to decline between 5-10 per cent annually in the 2013 season and lasted through to 2016,” says Phil Dale, Executive Director of Triathlon Ontario.
“2012, particularly the disappointing London Olympic performances, saw the beginning of the decline,” says Dale. “Olympic success or potential success is critical for a sport’s organic growth.”
From 2008 to 2012, it was Simon Whitfield’s and Paula Findlay’s success that drove interest from the general public and corporate sponsors. “For example, CBC broadcasted an ITU WTS (International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series) race pretty much every weekend during the season, but that ended after the London Olympics,” says Dale.
“There was also the rise of pseudo endurance events like Tough Mudder that gave people another option for a bucket list experience,” says Dale.
However, since 2016, triathlon and multisport participation seem to be on the rise. “Since then, we have seen a modest overall annual growth in participation of about 1-5 per cent over the past two years,” says Dale. “Despite a decline in the number of events when compared to 2013.”
Related: How to move up to a sprint triathlon
The reasons for multisport growth in Ontario are numerous. Here are a few observations:
- Coverage and Interest: The 2016 Rio Olympics likely gave a boost.
- Success and Excitement: In 2018, Joanna Brown won bronze at the Commonwealth Games and Tyler Mislawchuk had a breakout season on the ITU circuit – finishing the year ranked 10th in the world. There’s also a lot of world-class potential in the U23 and junior divisions. Not to mention Canada’s long course success on the men’s and women’s side.
- Coverage and Interest: In 2018, CBC streamed the World Triathlon Series online and Facebook started streaming Ironman races on IRONMAN now Facebook page.
- Spectator friendly: The introduction of professional and age group super sprint triathlon series’ – Major League Triathlon and Super League Triathlon, are super-fast and help make triathlons more spectator friendly.
- Variety: A variety of events have been included in triathlon race weekends – try-a-tri, tri and duathlon team relays, aquathlon, aquabike, swim-run, duathlon and cross, sprint, Olympic, long course, 70.3 and full triathlon races.
Related: Why a runner should try triathlons
Other multisport events to try
It’s important to realize triathlon isn’t the only multisport event. “If you’re willing to look outside the box, there are some great events out there that won’t take all day and break your budget,” says Daniel Clarke, TMC contributor and professional triathlete.
What can you do in the winter?
New to triathlon? Are you looking to stay sharp over the winter? Then, an indoor triathlon is for you. “Indoor tri’s are an awesome workout – they last 45-60 minutes, and they’ll really get your heart rate going,” says Clarke.
Not only are indoor triathlons a great introduction to the sport – taking place in a controlled environment. “They’re also quick and effective,” says Clarke. “‘I’ve never done an indoor tri that’s been over an hour twenty from start to finish. You can easily be in and out of there in two hours.”