USA Triathlon News Blogs Ordinary Mortals® The Pearl Izumi Pact

The Pearl Izumi Pact

By Dr. Steve Jonas | April 03, 2017, 11:36 a.m. (ET)

Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 42, 2017/04)

Last year, I believe it was, Pearl Izumi issued a Pact ( Online (of course) they urge people to sign on to it. In my long experience with our sport (34 years at the end of last season), I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And so, in this column, I would like to share it with you, along with some comments and the retailing of a few relevant personal experiences. 

The Pact begins with the following statement:

“We’re pledging to take our sport back. So should you.”* (Their footnote: *Unless you only got into it for the Insta and the coffee shop fashion shows. Then by all means, as you were.)  Then: “If there’s any kind of benevolent endurance god out there, we’ll keep this sport right where it was when we all fell in love with it: a sanctuary for anyone and everyone who yearns to sweat, sacrifice and suffer their way to happiness. Give the Pact a read. If it sounds like something you’re into, sign it. Then live it.”

I’m not quite sure who or what PI is pledging to take our sport back from, but certainly this opening statement reflects what I been saying about our triathlon/duathlon sports from the beginning: it is open to everyone and anyone, skilled or not, fast, slow or in between.  That’s why I fell in love with it from my very first finish at the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon in Sag Harbor, N.Y., on Sept. 17, 1983: “This is a sport that I can actually do (which applied to no other sport except for downhill skiing). And it doesn’t matter where I finish, for it’s finishing that counts.”  

I would later find out that that’s not it in every race either. Being the best you can be in that particular race on that particular day is really what it’s all about. As the great Dave Scott, six-time Hawaii IRONMAN champion (and for my money the greatest athlete of the 1980s, bar none), once said: “I encourage all triathletes…to reach for their goals, whether they be to win or just to try. The trying is everything.”

Now, getting back to Pearl Izumi, there are five articles for the Pact.

Article 1: “I will endure.  I will enjoy.  I shall only partake in this crazy sport I love, because I love it. And I will quit when I quit loving it.  I am a representative of this sport. As such, I will do my part to take the ‘ass’ out of ambassador.”

Well, certainly.  One cannot stay in a sport like this for any period of time, with the demands of training and racing, if one doesn’t love doing it (at least on race day[!]).But for me and many others, we partake in it for the mental and physical health benefits as well.  Indeed, one reason that I race is to make sure that I train, for I doubt very much that I would train as I do if I didn’t race.

Article 2: “No matter how goofy somebody looks, I shall not mock. But I will mock myself. Often. I will show respect to everyone I see with a wave or smile or nod. Maybe even all three. If it’s not returned, I will not shake my head. Because I do not know what’s going on in theirs.”

I certainly agree that it’s important not to be a mocker of others, but rather to be as supportive as one can of others’ efforts.  But I cannot say that mocking oneself serves any particular purpose.

Article 3: “I will be inclusive. Even of the exclusive. I will encourage the beginner, the professional, and everyone in between. I will place joy above performance, use my fingers for peace, not profanity, and I will focus on the scenery more than the scene.”

Yes, I do fondly remember the days when the pros and the amateurs were out there cheek by jowl. In my very first race, that one at Sag Harbor, coming out of the water I couldn’t ‘t get one of my ear plugs out. Dave Hornung, one of the early organizers/promoters of our sport, was standing at the transition area fence not too far from me. “Can you help me with this,” I asked.  “Sure.”  And out it came. Then in my first ultra-distance race, the 1985 Bud Light Endurance on Cape Cod, Mass., I was riding out on route 6 as Scott Tinley was coming back.  “Hey, Scott,” I called and waved.  And, on his way to setting the then world’s record for the distance, he waved back.

Article 4: “I will believe in positive vibes as much as power-to-weight ratios; good karma as much as good form. Whatever my jersey or bib may say, I know we’re all on the same team.”

Cannot go wrong with that one.

And finally, Article 5: “And when I’m suffering the most, I will remember that this is not life or death.  Even if it is my life.”

Yes, we should always remember that this is a sport we’re in.  It is not always fun, but if in a given race it’s starts to feel like you are really going downhill (figuratively), by golly just slow down. Or, as I have done or more than one occasion, drop out. Remember: there is always another race. 


This series of thoughts and recommendations about multisport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, "101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes" (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at and

Steve’s most recent multisport book is "Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It" (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at and

His first book on multisport racing, "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®" 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Dr. Jonas recently was featured in World Class Magazine. Click here to read the article.