Triathlon series celebrates its 10th birthday this year
Last year, CSM acquired a Lincoln based mass participation agency called OSB Events. Founded in 1991 by Iain Hamilton, they own and operate a diverse portfolio of mass participation events including the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon and the Outlaw Triathlon Series.
We recently sat down with Iain Hamilton to talk all things swim, bike and run, with a particular focus on the Outlaw Triathlon Series which celebrates its 10th birthday this year!
What is the Outlaw Triathlon Series?
The Outlaw Triathlon Series is ‘the UK’s favourite long-distance triathlon series’. The current series consists of four events, three of which are Half Distance (1.2mile swim, 56mile bike & 13.1mile run) and one full distance event (2.4mile swim, 112mile, 26.2mile run).
Tell us how it all started?
I am a former professional triathlete myself and back in 2008 I had the idea that there was a gap in the market to create a long-distance triathlon series that would be a challenger brand to Ironman. Following 18 months of planning and hard work, the Outlaw triathlon brand was born! We delivered our first event – Outlaw Nottingham – back in 2010. The rest is history!
How has the sport of triathlon developed over the last 10 years?
Back in the days when I used to compete, triathlon was a relatively small sport with a core of dedicated and passionate competitors. Thanks in no small part to London 2012 & two brothers from Yorkshire called Ali & Jonny Brownlee winning individual medals, triathlon was catapulted into the mainstream. Almost overnight, triathlon went from a sport deemed to only be for the super fit to one that everyone could have a go at.
Why do you think popularity of long-distance triathlon in particular has grown so much in recent years?
As shorter distance triathlon events exploded in popularity off the back of the London 2012 Olympics, it was inevitable that there would be a large contingent of triathletes who ‘caught the bug’ and wanted to take their performance to the next level. Training for a long-distance triathlon is the closest thing you can get to being a professional, full-time athlete and I believe that people are drawn to the lifestyle this facilitates….not to mention the HUGE sense of achievement when you cross the finish line.
How have you managed to be successful in a market that’s so dominated by one operator - Ironman?
Ironman does an excellent job and have done a huge amount to grow the long-distance triathlon marketplace. 10 years ago, when we started, there was no alternative to Ironman in the UK, so when we launched Outlaw we immediately gained a big following. We have no secret formula - we just put on events that we would enjoy participating in ourselves.
What makes Outlaw events special?
I’d love to say that there was one thing, however, in reality it’s the culmination of lots of different elements. Something that we are really proud of is the 500 or so volunteers that each Outlaw events attracts. Our volunteers really make the events and they are so massively supportive of the athletes, regardless of their ability. As athletes ourselves, we feel we have a special affinity with our competitors. We understand what it takes to train for an Outlaw and our role is to organise a smooth, enjoyable event, for the athlete but also their supporters as well.
How has CSM added value to date and how do you see us helping to grow and evolve the series?
Despite only working together for a short period of time, CSM have already helped us grow our business. Not only have we worked together to launch a brand-new event – Outlaw X – but we have also seen record participation numbers across our entire portfolio which is extremely positive. Moving forward, we’re excited to continue working closely to grow the series to 6-8 events.
Where do you see the Outlaw Series in 5 years’ time?
I’d like to have a series of 6 – 8 UK based Outlaw events, with each of the events being a full weekend of activities for all the family – think triathlon meets festival! I’d also love to take the Outlaw brand overseas and I feel strongly that there are multiple locations around the world where the Outlaw brand would be very successful.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking of doing a long-distance triathlon but isn’t quite sure they could manage it?
Go for it! Be realistic about your current fitness level, ideally take six months or so to train, get a training program, join a club and just get cracking. Having a club or friends to train with makes it sociable and more enjoyable. Start your training slowly and gradually increase the time you spend swimming, cycling and running. Before you know it, it’ll be race day and you’ll be crossing the finish line to the famous words: “YOU. ARE. AN. OUTLAW!”