A round of golf was once the preferred pastime of company executives looking to combine business with pleasure.
But now the endurance race is proving a popular release from the rat race.
Chasing the world's top triathletes at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon tomorrow will be bankers, accountants, and scores of other professionals who are being drawn to the sport that consists of a swim, run and bike leg.
Many of them will be men in their forties, a demographic that has come to dominate the sport worldwide and is its fastest growing segment - a phenomenon that has attracted much psychological analysis.
Graeme Marks, Santander's Middle East chief executive, completed his first triathlon less than a month ago at Tri Yas around Abu Dhabi's Grand Prix venue.
He took up the sport after making a pact with his twin brother to lose some weight.
Four months later and 17 kilogrammes lighter, he will be tackling the sprint course tomorrow.
"I'm looking forward to it with a degree of trepidation," he said this week before one of his final training sessions ahead of the race. "I'm turning the big 50 in a couple of months. I was overweight and not doing enough, so last year along with my brother decided to do something about it."
Some 900 of about 2,000 people competing tomorrow will be over the age of 40, according to the race organisers. That's an increase of about 6 per cent on last year.
Corporate entries are also increasing year on year, according to Faisal Al Sheikh, the director of Events Bureau, TCA Abu Dhabi.
"The sheer guts and determination needed to compete in an international triathlon like ours builds the endurance and survival instincts business leaders need," he says.
The high participation of this age group in the sport is reflected in the membership of global triathlon organisations.
USA Triathlon, the main body for the sport in America, had about 30,000 members a decade ago. Today, it has almost 147,000 members with males in the 40 to 49-year-old bracket accounting for the largest single group - or 16 per cent of the total.
Britain's main triathlon body has also seen its membership more than double in just six years, with people between the ages of 35 and 44 making up the largest category.
So what is the reason for the rapid growth of triathlon competitors that have become known as "mamils" - or middle aged men in lycra?
In Psychology Today, Dr Camille Johnson discusses a paper by Abe Tesser at the University of Georgia which concludes that when people who are close to us are also better than us in a particular field, we tend to either lose the friend or leave that area of competition.
In layman terms, most of us don't like being outperformed by a mate.
But triathlons offer the potential to be better than our buddies in at least one of the disciplines or at least improve in relation to age group peers.
That may partly explain the particular popularity of the sport among middle-aged men that is often simply dismissed as the lycra phase of the male mid-life crisis.
"My wife tells me I've already had my mid-life crisis 10 years ago - maybe this is a second one," jokes Santander's Mr Marks.
He says the health benefits and the positive atmosphere of the competition are more obvious attractions. "Yes people want to do well in the race but there is a very friendly atmosphere."
The sport also helps him to think through a lot of work-related issues. "I can take a lot out with me on my run," he says.
Still, there is much in the sport that appeals to the sense of Type A male competitiveness - perhaps providing reassurance to middle-aged triathletes that they can still compete against much younger rivals.
"Triathlons provide comparisons that will make you feel good about yourself and comparisons that will inspire you to work a little harder. You can be both pushed and reassured at the same time," notes Dr Johnson.
"That is spot on," says Steve Watson an Australian who moved to the Emirates five years ago. A former semi-professional Australian Rules footballer, he is a self-confessed A-type competitive personality and thrives on the competition when racing against his friends.
"I compete with a friend who is a fantastic swimmer. I smash him on the bike and technically we're on the same level running. If I see him going past me in an Ironman it's a case of dig deep - you've got to catch him."
Less than four years after running his first marathon in 2009, he is now addicted to endurance sport.
In the past year alone he has completed an Ironman competition in the United States, some eight Olympic distance triathlons, a half Ironman, back to back marathons in Muscat and Dubai and a half marathon in Sydney.
Racing has also become a big part of his working life, which involves helping to organise endurance events around the country."Out here you can be fit or fat," he says.
While in theory all you need to compete in a triathlon is a bike, some goggles and a pair of shorts, in reality participants can spend tens of thousands of dollars every year on equipment from calorie-counting bicycle-mounted computers to a top of the range carbon frame road bike.
This is also a factor in the popularity of the sport among professional people in their forties and fifties who are often better able to afford the latest gadgets and gear, says Mr Watson.
Laura Reid will be tackling the "Short" course tomorrow - which perhaps misleadingly describes a race that involves a 1.5 kilometre swim, a 100km bike ride and a 10km run.
"There is nothing short about it," says the 46-year-old senior project manager at National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
She and her husband have competed in the Abu Dhabi event twice before and says she is used to being labelled as a mid-life crisis victim by her children.
"Yeah, but I can still run, swim and cycle faster than you - and you're half my age, I tell them."
She says triathlons provide a great stress outlet and the potential to constantly improve across the various disciplines.
For anyone thinking about the plunge off the Corniche next year, she has some simple advice: "It's about starting, finishing and enjoying everything in the middle."