The Carrot Blog

Carrot Creative is filled with colorful characters. Cultured Carrots is a series that shares the outside passions that inspire the very best work for our clients. This week, Account Director Katie Hepler talks about her passion for one of the most difficult competitive sports in the world: Triathlons.

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Carrot: So for the less athletic people out there, please explain what a triathlon is?

Katie Hepler: Triathlon is a sporting activity where competitors must swim, bike and run a designated distance in that order. There are a variety of triathlon distances one can chose to race, but the most common are:

  • Sprint distance (500-800 meter swim, 10-15 mile bike, 5 kilometer run)
  • Olympic distance (1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer [approx. 25 mile) bike, 10 kilometer run)
  • Half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run)
  • Full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run)

The distance one choses to race determines the training needed. As an estimate, a person who is moderately active would want to train for about 2-3 months for an Olympic distance and 5-8 months for half and full Ironmans. The sport has grown tremendously over the past 15 years; USA Triathlon membership alone doubled in growth from 1999 to 2005, and reached its highest membership to-date in 2014 (just over 170,000). This doesn’t include the thousands of people who participate in triathlons all over the country and the growth in other markets such as Europe and Asia. The increase in popularity is partially attributed to triathlon being added to the Olympics in 2000.

C: Triathlons sounds devastatingly hard. What inspired you to get into this activity?

KH: I took a triathlon class my last semester of undergrad and loved the challenge it provides. Each sport individually requires training and technique work to get faster, so there’s always something to improve upon no matter how many triathlons you’ve done. And no race or training plan is the same – you learn something about yourself each time you compete or go out for swim/ride/run.

C: Do you have to change your diet during training? Is it bye-bye pizza time?

KH: You can eat pizza! But just like a normal diet, you want to make sure you’re eating balanced meals.

This question brings up a really important aspect in the sport called nutrition – how you fuel yourself pre, during and post workouts. The diet can change based on the distance you race distance. As you move into the half and full distances, your “plate” requires more carbohydrates and overall calories. And your tolerance/ability to consume alcohol goes down.

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C: Triathlons can last a while. What's going in your head during all that time?

KH: First I think about my form and how my body is feeling to make sure I’m moving in the most efficient way possible and following my race plan (e.g., not blowing my energy too early in the race, eating/drinking at the right time). Beyond that, I think about people in my life and key training moments – my family, triathlon teammates, hard rides/runs, lessons learned. And I also sing in my head.

C: Where's the most interesting location you've participated in a competition? What's still on the wish list?

KH: It’s hard to say, but since I just completed a race in Lake Placid, I’d say that’s the most interesting location. There’s something magical about doing a long distance triathlon at the location of the 1980 and 1932 Olympics, and ending your race on the oval Eric Heiden won all his gold medals. The bike is in the Adirondack Mountains, so the views are breathtaking.

For the wish list, I’d like to race Ironman Wisconsin and do a half or full Ironman with my sister, Laura.

C: After you finish a triathlon, how do you celebrate?

KH: Immediately after, I hug and thank family, friends and teammates who came to spectate, and cheer on teammates who are competing in the race!

If it’s a full or half, I’ll try to take the next day off to recover. Depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll treat myself to a nice meal after… and of course bask in glory.

C: Do you think triathlons will incorporate catching Pokemon any time soon?

KH: It’s funny you ask, because one of the families I stayed with at Lake Placid was really into Pokémon Go with their son. They got word that Pikachu was downtown so they raced out the door to catch him! This is a good question since there is a family presence in the sport, so elements like Pokémon could absolutely get incorporated into the race experience to make it more fun for spectating parents and kids.

Moreover, it hits on a larger opinion of mine that the marketing tactics and consumer experience could be elevated. Currently they’re pretty standard; however, the challenge with bringing them to the next level is the willingness to increase marketing dollars and get new partners to invest in a niche audience. At the moment, there are a handful of brands looking to build relationships with the target; however, there could be more out-of- the-box thinking knowing that the target makes a medium income of $126,000.

C: Final Thoughts?

KH: Triathlon is a lifelong sport that you can flex your involvement to match other commitments in your life. It’s a great way to challenge yourself physically and mentally, as well as meet like-minded people. And it keeps you in good shape.