Breaking Down the Triathlete Community: Educated, Family Oriented & Frugal

Yesterday at the Triathlon America Conference, our CEO Dave Alberga presented an overview of the results from the first-ever in-depth study on triathletes. The Triathlon America and Active Network Market Survey polled 55,000+ registered members, ranging in ages from 18-55+ with a mix of lapsed vs. active participants. The survey gained a 12% response rate and here’s what we learned.

1. Women are different than men
Before you say “no duh,” take a look at a few of the specific differences as they relate to the sport. Women start doing triathlons for reasons unique to their gender: to try something new, improve their appearance, get social, and help charities. They carefully train and are interested in 5Ks and 10Ks (vs. men who jump headfirst towards Ironman and Half Ironman events). And even more interesting, women spend less than men on travel and gear.

2. Upscale, educated and frugal
Nearly 90% of triathletes have attended college or post-graduate school and 70% work full time. Even though 55% of triathletes have an annual household income of $100K+, price hugely influences their purchasing decisions. For example, 50% of triathletes typically choose a moderately priced hotel for an event.

3. It takes a village
Don’t underestimate the power of peers. The #1 post-race activity for triathletes is spending time with family and friends. Plus 43% travel with their families and 16% get training advice from friends. Provide opportunities for the whole family to be part of your event and realize how much influence fellow triathletes have on each other.

4. It’s not for everyone and that’s ok
Unlike 5Ks and 10Ks, triathlons are not a gateway to other endurance events. Personal gratification is a main motivator—for example, setting a PR was a top goal for participants in 2011. Ultimately, triathletes like the fact that triathlons are difficult and not for everyone.

5. Don’t give up on lapsed triathletes
The main blocker for lapsed triathletes (those who haven’t entered a tri in 3+ years) is “other priorities,” rather than injury, finances, skill, etc. In fact, 16% still belong to their tri club and 56% are still active in other endurance events like 5Ks, half marathons and mud runs. They are still interested in triathlons and can be lured back into participating!

Check out this cool infographic which breaks down the four types of triathletes—Newcomer, Practitioner, Veteran, Lapsed Triathlete—and how the five key results play out for each of them:

The full Triathlon America and Active Network Market Survey will be ready for distribution the week of March 26, 2012. To reserve your copy or inquire about pricing, please send an e-mail to