Chattanooga notches up a major geek milestone with Ironman selection

I’ve been waiting a long time for an excuse to post one of my Ironman finisher photos.

When people outside of the industry ask me “What do you do?”, I usually answer “Swim, bike, run. Eat, sleep. Repeat.” If pressed, I’ll admit to doing something or other with broadband, then quickly steer the conversation back to triathlon, particularly the ultra-distance form of the addiction sport. So I can’t resist the temptation of a press release from the World Triathlon Corporation and the Chattanooga Sports Committee, announcing Ironman Chattanooga, a new race beginning in 2014.

There are two ways to get WTC to bless your town with a Ironman branded race: give them a couple box cars full of money (Louisville, Tempe) or be insufferably cool enough (Tahoe, Boulder) to satisfy the brand managers and bloated egos that clog the hallways there. Preferably both.

So I had to ask myself: which one was it? Several southeastern U.S. cities wanted the race, including Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Asheville. Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach probably have too much cool to put up much cash, and the rest would have to depend on money alone. Chattanooga brought both to the table.

I have no idea about the money, but the cool had to come from the gigabit buzz that’s making Chattanooga a regional high-tech mecca. Tri-geeks are, well, geeks. We buy unobtainium bicycles, plant electronic sensors in places where the sun doesn’t shine, spend more time crunching stats than abs and hope Asperger’s is contagious so we can focus better on our workouts.

Anyplace with that much bandwidth must have good coffee and craft beers too. Plus, the downriver swim course is emblematic of Chattanooga’s gushing bit streams. So it’s not cheating. Honest.

For those wondering, an Ironman involves a 3.8 km (2.4 mile) swim, 180 km (112 mile) bike ride and a 42.2 km (26.2 mile or marathon) run. According to the man who invented it, John Collins, if you do the distance you’ve done an Ironman and you are an Ironman. Even if you haven’t signed your 401K over to WTC for the privilege. Even if you’re a woman because, face it, if they called it an Ironwoman it would have to be much harder.