Andy’s take on triathlon

My exposure to triathlon has come through Dougal Allan, my brother in law.
My first exposure to triathlon came at a race in Benalla where I competed as part of a training regime for an upcoming football season. I had learnt to swim in the 9 months prior and aimed to give the 750M, 20km, 5km a crack.
My learning to swim was in a pool, I didn’t realise the open water swim was a whole new game. Long story short, a boat pulled me out, I rode and ran the course and left the day feeling like a bloody idiot.
I also left this day realising there was a different way to spectate sport. I was used to yelling at officials and abusing the opposition to get an edge. On this day I found myself encouraging people and being nice…. Weird.
Fast forward a couple of years and following discussions with my sister about the professional triathlon world, I wanted to help Dougal’s plight by finding him a manager. The connections I have in the sport management field were not overly interested in the area… I didn’t like these answers. This got me thinking that it if no one was interested in this role, I needed to work harder to find someone who would be.
First stop was Xiamen in China. A half ironman event. Not Dougal’s strength. He likes the “endurance races”. In my mind, a bit of endurance is required to finish this race…. But I have since learnt about Dougal’s adventure racing background and what’s involved with these. Point taken.
He liked the race because of the prize money. He came 5th or 6th and got a little purse to take home.
After learning about the purse available and probability of winning races, I learnt that prize money was not enough to survive as a professional athlete.
Time to think of different ways to get an income. Business background starts firing. Income streams. Dougal’s strengths? What’s valuable for the people that follow him? How do we increase this audience? How do we tailor this to fit with Dougal’s values so he isn’t selling out? How can we give people value, while allowing Dougal’s main focus to remain his race performances?
Through my business, I have had to learn how to market. I find it hard to market my business and myself. I find it easy to tell Dougal to market himself. Dougal finds it hard to market himself. I find it easy to market Dougal.
Dougal: “Andrew, you’re coming to Taiwan.”
Andrew: “What?”
D: “I have a race in Taiwan and I want you to come”
A thinks: …. {No, I have a business to run, things to do back home, my own life blah blah blah}
A: “OK”
In the build up to Taiwan I learn that video marketing is a way to let people get to know you better. If you are a twinkler, best to avoid this. If you are a good person, with strong morals and knowledge to share that is useful, this is a good idea.
A: Dougal, you need to make some videos.
D: Hmmmm I dunno, I feel like a bloody idiot.
A: do it
D: ok
Dougal starts making some videos and feels like an idiot, but people start smashing the ‘like button’. I get to Taiwan and I get involved in the video process and provide updates.
Dougal came 2nd. He rides his fastest ever bike time, rode powerfully and well. He is outridden by two guys at the front of the pack. I look at website (where he was ranked 2nd in the world on the bike). How did this happen?
I have now learnt about drafting and the power savings available by riding behind someone or something.
In Taiwan, the road race is open. `Trucks, cars and motorbikes are present.
A: “Dougal, why aren’t you riding behind these things as well?”
D: “ I respect triathlon”
A: “I respect you”
When prizemoney is a big part of your income, the temptation must be there to do these things… The temptation is not taken. Dougal comes second.

Challenge Taiwan

We get a message from Amy back home. You had 25,000 views on your videos. We spit our Taiwanese starbucks coffee out.
Say what?
This makes us laugh at first. Then we realise this is a lot of people and exposure for a ginger haired lad who grew up in Foxton.
We go home.
Landmark Homes comes on as a major sponsor. This is extremely helpful ahead of a big race.
Two Months Later:
D: “you’re coming to Germany”
A: “what?”
D: “I am going to challenge roth and you are coming.”
A thinks: { no. I don’t even like triathlon. I have bills to pay, new staff, things to do blah blah}
A: “ok”
We land in Germany 30 hrs of transit later…
A: “where are we staying?”
D: “ 6 hour train ride away, with a  family in Schwand”
A: “hmmph ok”
We meet our host family. We like.
Race week begins. Challenge Roth is cool. All of the races are cool. China was cool. Taiwan was cool. I went and saw some friends race at Ironman Cairns, that was cool. All the races are equally interesting in their own way.
Roth is a headliner event for the Challnege family. 30 years old. 5000+ competitors. 200,000+ spectators. Big history.
It’s a week long festival. We plan the week ahead (this is rare for both of us). We enjoy the festivities and ensure that the basics for preparation for the race are achieved. Diet. Exercise. Rest. Sleep. Relaxing mentally.
Dougal comes 7th. Andrew gets drunk.
Dougal rides the 2nd fastest bike time in Challenge Roth.
Come again?
Dougal rides the 2nd fastest bike time in Challenge Roth.
I can’t put this in perspective well enough because I don’t understand triathlon. I look at the results page:
1st Team something
2nd Team something
3rd Team something
4th Team something
5th Team Something
6th Team something
7th Pro athlete
8th team something
9th team something
10th team something
Dougal came 7th.
I ask Dougal what these “teams” mean.
D: “These guys are in professional teams that pay a salary and bonuses and are provided human and equipment resources. There are guys there that have won 5 world championships and competed in the olympics”
A: “WTF and you’re mixing it with these guys?”
D: “Yeah, can we go home and sleep now?”
A: “Yes, its been a big day”
A (internally): {We are going to have to do this differently to the other guys, this is ok. Dougal likes talking with “the people” and providing value. We will find a way}
Host family in Roth

Dougal will share more about the race experience as he understands what actually went on and the history around it.
This brings us to now. Challenge Roth is an experience we both won’t forget. Its going to take me a week to work out what actually went on.
We got some more good exposure on the day despite poor internet (another 20,000+ Facebook views). There are plenty of sub stories about how I got to certain points in the race that I won’t publish for fear of prosecution.
Spectating an ironman event is more than watching people swim, cycle and run. If you know somebody who is competed in such an event, probe about their training. Probe about their motives. Attend the race and feel what goes on. The pro’s are freak athletes, but for every pro there are 100 or more age group guys who are having a crack as well.
Cairns I saw a man with one leg competing.
Roth I met the gang from NZ who were part of Road2Roth. I got to see that Haka live. WOW, well done to these guys and Dougal.
There are people over 70 years old competing.
There are people who save money to travel the world to qualify for races that are lifelong goals.
Triathlon is a feel good spectator sport.
The next chapter is a bit of an unknown with some events back home happening within family, which is taking priority at the moment. Should the initial plan unfold, I will be meeting with Dougal again in a couple of months for Ironman Sweden in Kalmar.
I am hoping that some exposure for Dougal after Kalmar is helpful to open up some new sponsorship/management opportunities for him and Amy and their family.
#Teamdougal is starting to develop a little family of its own. The relationships between existing sponsors and coaches is tight and I am happy to be a small part of this.
Dougal is my brother in law and I am biased. But I like him and I like the way he goes about his business. If you would like a reference or some background info about Dougal I am happy to give you the real story instead of the humble, self depreciating one you would otherwise get from Dougal.