A motivation-based typology of triathletes

  • E Myburgh
  • M Kruger
  • M Saayman
Keywords: Triathlons, Market segmentation, Factor analysis, Clustering, Motivation, Sport tourism, Ironman South Africa.


Ironman South Africa is the only Ironman on the African continent which takes place every April in Nelson Mandela Bay (Eastern Cape Province), with nearly 2 000 athletes participating. The purpose of this research was to use reasons for participation (motivation) to identify different market segments of triathletes participating in Ironman South Africa. A survey was conducted during registration of the event in 2013 and a total of 425 questionnaires were administered. A factor analysis found that triathletes were motivated by seven motivational factors including: challenge; inner vie; health and fitness; intrinsic achievement and control; event novelty; group affiliation and socialisation; and, lastly, respect and risk. Based on these motives, three distinct clusters of triathlon participants were identified: Devotees; Enthusiasts; and Aspirationals. Although these participants have different motives, there are only significant differences in age and no other socio-demographic characteristics. This research narrowed the gap in current research related to triathlons and triathletes in the country, which is currently non-existent. The results show distinct segments of different athletes that can aid organisers and destinations to create products and services that complement the participants’ motives. This can ultimately lead to a more competitive and sustainable event.

Key words: Triathlons; Market segmentation; Factor analysis; Clustering; Motivation; Sport tourism; Ironman South Africa.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069