10 reasons why you should never – ever – go on holiday with a triathlete…

As we come to the end of another unusual summer holiday season, Brunty reflects on the unique experience of travelling with a triathlete…and shares his top reasons why you should never go on holiday with one. How many sound familiar?

10 reasons why you should never - ever - go on holiday with a triathlete...

Holidays! Remember those? They used to involve spending several days lounging on a beach or poolside, doing nothing more energetic than heaving your growing mass to the all-you-can eat buffet. Not if you were on holiday with a triathlete, though…!


Oh no, spending a fortnight in the company of a fidgety exercise obsessive is an entirely different experience and is about as relaxing as being captain of the boat at the Olympic Triathlon start line. Long-time readers of this column may recall some of the holiday episodes that I’ve put the long-suffering Mrs B through, such as the time I took her to Stockholm for her birthday but didn’t tell her I was running a marathon until we got there. Or the time we were in Cancun when I snuck out of the room while she was asleep to run a 5k, won the race, snuck back in before she woke up, only to be dropped in it at breakfast by some people who congratulated me.

Then there are all the times we went on holiday BECAUSE I was doing a triathlon, dragging Mrs B to random locations around the world and leaving her to look after my bike box while I swanned off for 12 hours. So all in all I’d say that you should never go on holiday with a triathlete, and here are my top 10 reasons why:

1. We can’t sit still.
Some people can spend hours immobile on a sun lounger, whereas your average triathlete can last about 90 seconds before we’re up again, off for a walk, off to the bar, off for a swim, off to the local shop, etc etc.

2. Everything’s a competition.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s beach volleyball or learning to mix cocktails, the triathlete in your life will be going all out to win. I remember taking part in a ‘fun’ table tennis tournament and playing with the intensity of Novak Djokovic.

3. We judge everyone’s swimming.
It doesn’t matter if they’re floating on a lilo or that bloke (and it’s always a bloke) who gets into the shallow, fun-shaped pool and does 10 lengths of jerky freestyle, their stroke will be pulled apart. The triathlete will then get in the water, casually show how it’s done, then stand towelling themselves off on poolside like a lion surveying a water hole.

4. Every meal is a minefield of guilt and social awkwardness.
Will the triathlete in your life be fasting like a monk in order not to put on an ounce of weight in prep for their race in six months’ time? Or will they be in post-race mode and coming back from the buffet with Mr Creosote-like portions?

5. The daily T-shirt challenge.
The triathlete in your life will only wear one item while on holiday – race t-shirts. They’ll wear a different one each day, and each day will think carefully about which one to wear so as to chest brag while trying to look nonchalant. Just on the off-chance there’s another triathlete at the same hotel.

6. Everyone can see their feet.
Thanks to 20 years of tri, my feet look like a pair of napalmed rats. On holiday, everyone will be able to see the state of the triathlete in your life’s manky toes and deformed heels.

7. Drink!
Thanks to long periods of abstinence and the body fat content of an anglepoise lamp, triathletes are to exotic alcohol what Piers Morgan is to gymnastics. So, while you’ll be getting warmed up with your third jug of sangria, the triathlete in your life will be slumped against a wall muttering incoherently about their marathon splits after two Jägerbombs.

8. Reading books about athletics out loud.
The only time the triathlete in your life will sit still is when they’re reading a book, which will inevitably be a sports person’s biography. And you will get to read it too, via the medium of them saying ‘Listen to this…’ incessantly.

9. False modesty.
‘What do you do?’ say the nice couple you’ve started talking to by the pool. ‘A bit of swimming, cycling and running,’ says the triathlete in your life. ‘Have you ever done a triathlon?’ say the nice couple. And that’s it, every race, every PB, every split will come out.

10. Training mad on return.
Upon returning home, you won’t see the triathlete in your life for several days as they run, swim and cycle themselves into the ground, convinced they’ve lost about a year’s worth of fitness.

Enjoy the rest of the summer holidays, everyone!


Illustration credit: Daniel Seex