Graham Shaw15 Nov 2021

‘Weather is affecting our sport’ – Mark Allen on triathlon and climate change

Mark Allen says "weather is affecting our sport" and believes climate change is "probably" to blame.
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Triathlon great Mark Allen says “weather is affecting our sport” and that climate change is “probably” to blame.

The future of the planet, quite rightly, has been firmly front and centre in recent days due to the COP26 conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Ironman races hit by climate

While Allen admits that the impact on major triathlon events is well down the priority list of issues likely caused by climate change, he says recent high-profile examples do highlight it.

Speaking in a video on his YouTube channel, six-times IRONMAN World Champion Allen tackled the topic, using those two recent U.S. races to make his point.

“Weather is affecting races, weather is affecting outdoor events in ways that seem to be more on a consistent basis. And it’s not just this year or this weekend, it’s really been going on for a while.

“Think about the history of IRONMAN California. The very first year it was in Lake Tahoe, granted up in the mountains, but it was in September which is usually a nice month. They had snow the night before the race – they were able to hold the event, but still, really really cold. The following year they had to cancel it because of smoke from fires.

YouTube video

Fast forward to the next time they have IRONMAN California in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago, in state that probably has the worst combination of drought and fires put together, the race is cancelled because of torrential rains – how crazy is that?

“IRONMAN Florida last weekend, the swim was horrendous – horrendous. Winds and chop making it difficult.

“One of the Age-Group women was commenting that her absolute slowest time in a swim in an Ironman was 1:38 – she swam 2:45. Obviously didn’t make the cutoff, over an hour slower. She said at one point she was swimming next to a buoy for over 15 minutes without making one inch of progress.”

Climate change the cause?

Allen believes the evidence of the change is clear, and he is pretty sure what the reason is. The 63-year-old does retain hope though that things can be done to stem the tide.

“Weather is affecting our sport, weather is affecting all outdoor activity – it’s not as predictable as maybe it was 20 or 30 years ago. It’s a reality that we’re having to deal with.

“Climate change? Probably. Is there anything we can do about it? I hope so. Is it the most important aspect of saving the planet’s climate? No, racing is not the most important thing. But it’s a window into showing us how things are changing.

“I have faith in humanity though, I have faith in all of you.”