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Triathlon a phenomenon of 'middle-aged men in lycra'

Executives will be swapping pinstripe suits for wetsuits tomorrow as endurance racing takes over the capital.

Executives will be swapping pinstripe suits for wetsuits tomorrow as endurance racing takes over the capital.

Some 2,000 people are competing in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon as the sport attracts increasing numbers of participants from the ranks of business and finance.

Among them will be Graeme Marks, Santander's regional chief executive, who is part of the fast expanding financial contingent competing in the sport.

The 49-year-old banker completed his first triathlon last month at the Yas Marina Circuit and hopes to improve on his time tomorrow after shedding 17 kilograms in four months of intensive training.

Triathlon has become one of the world's fastest growing sports with the over-40s representing the largest category of competitors - sparking much analysis among psychologists into the phenomenon of the "mamil" - or middle-aged man in lycra.

Some 900 of the about 2,000 people competing tomorrow will be over the age of 40 according to the race organisers. That is an increase of about 6 per cent on last year.

Corporate entries are also increasing year on year, said 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 said.

Steve Watson who is helping to organise tomorrow's event said the outdoor lifestyle of the Emirates had helped the sport to take off in the country.

"Out here you can be fit or fat," he added.



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