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Tri’ing Is Good For Tech & Business pt 1 of 2

Published August 11, 2009

By Mae Lee Sun
TNAZ Regional Correspondent
Ian Andes

VP of Sales for G-technology, Ian Andes, cut his race time down at this year’s Vineman half Ironman event, by over an hour, crediting it to the ‘toys’ and tech he’s invested in.
Credit: LA Tri Club
Twenty thousand, give or take a few dollars over the past two years. That’s only the financial investment that’s come out of the pockets of Ian Andes, Vice President of Sales for G-Technology (a Hitachi company) in Los Angeles, California.
He drove to Tucson this past spring with his brother to spend some of that cash, which every few months or so, is par for the course. He’s even lost sleep and shed nearly 20 pounds over it. Luckily, he has a supportive spouse.
We’re not talking about plunging stocks. Andes, along with a million other people, are putting their money where their body is and competing in the growing sport of triathlon. The buzz has inspired a flurry of new retail businesses, personal coaching, performance technology and a multitude of products and nutritional supplements geared toward an expanding demographic.
When Andes first became interested in triathlon, he said he had no idea what it would cost, what the entry fees were. He did not have the disposable income he has now.
He was a competitive long distance swimmer throughout his teenage years and it was that competitive drive and a desire to get back in shape, now that he’s in his early 30’s, that led to his entry into the Los Angeles, Wildflower and Vineman triathlon competitions. Andes is currently training for the inaugural 2010 IronMan St-George in Utah.
“I had the swim trunks and the goggles, no bike, and running was my weakness,” Andes recalls.
“I ran in whatever I had at the time, which was a pair of Nikes,” he says about starting out. But soon, he was spending dollars to compete.
“I went to a triathlon event sponsored by the LA Tri Club and they had a cool tent with all this gear. I saw a cool bike and got excited,” Andes remembers.
What’s the motivation for Andes?
“On my deathbed, I want to say that I did and not that I ‘should’ have tried,” he says. And he’s seen older triathletes, who are ambitious and driven. They have the disposable income to support success in the form of clothing, gadgets, nutritional supplements and private coaching.
Carol DeHasse

Tucson-based OB/GYN physician, Carol DeHasse, has “the right gear” for competing in triathlons across Arizona in the past year. “Technology matters,” she says.
Credit: Mae Lee Sun
After he started buying into the triathlon gear, Andes went from a six hour and forty minute half Ironman to a five hour seven minute full Ironman at Vineman this year.
According to Tim Yount, Sr. Vice President of marketing and communications for the USA Triathlon organization (USAT) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the national sanctioning authority for the sport, estimated revenues triathlons generate in goods and services each year is currently more than $4 billion. Yount attributes much of that to the support of clubs like the one Andes belongs to, which promote competition in more ways than one.
Andes joined the Los Angeles Tri Club for $60 and has attended numerous clinics, trainings and presentations organized by them. Members get exposed to technology and brands that they might not otherwise know about, says Andes, as many clubs sell their own gear and have product sponsorship.
“The biggest demographic is actually Gen Y and Baby Boomers,” says Yount, who takes full advantage of the social and business networking opportunities. The culture, he asserts, is conducive to growth.
“Along with a community feel of triathlon and peers who work together on what to expect when they participate, there are numerous events giving more opportunities to compete,” says Yount. “Clubs also have a number of websites that have general training and racing information and club gear,” he adds.
Debbie Clagget, vice president and co-owner of TriSports, a superstore for triathlon equipment in South Tucson, sees a braod range of competitors at the retail and on-line store she owns with her business partner and husband, Seton.
According to Clagget’s estimates, the average age of TriSports customers is 41 years old but extends into the 80’s. The majority she says, are college graduates with a yearly income level of more than $130,000. Men make up 76%. while professions run the gamut from attorney to Olympic gold medalist and the stalwart weekend warrior.
“Our revenues have grown by over 400 percent over the last five years,” says Clagget.
“We have sponsored many different entities within the sport and believe in giving back to the sport that supports us,” she adds.
Over the last year, Clagett has provided sponsorships of individuals, teams, clubs and races. And she believes that triathlons have been growing in popularity during the current economy, because people are more aware of their health. “People have a desire to improve,” she says. “But the economy is spurring the growth with people dropping gym memberships in favor of using the free outdoors,” Clagett notes. “What better to do outside than swim, run and bike?” she adds.

Written by maeleesun

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