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Collector's Edition -- Two Decades of TriMag

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Contributing Author: 
Gale Bernhardt

Gale Bernhardt and part of her collection of Triathlete magazines. The magazines (not Gale) are looking for a good home.

In my home office closest, gathering dust and the fur of my support staff, sits 23 years’ worth of Triathlete Magazines, 1987 to 2009. Recent life events had me staring at the carefully dated boxes. What made me start keeping the magazines and why are they still in my house?

By the time I began an annual subscription for the magazine, I was fully smitten with triathlon. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about the sport. I wanted to be a better, faster, stronger triathlete. I would devour each issue cover to cover, keeping them organized by year and issue so that when I went to look for training information, it would be easy to find – well, easier to find.

I have a few other random triathlon publications from the same time period, but Triathlete issues would be the only ones that I consistently kept. Why?

Why does anyone keep anything well beyond what is deemed it’s “useful life?”

We all have different reasons for holding onto different items. That reason might be a wistful memory reflected in those good times. There could be a seed of possible use - the off-chance of further utility in one form or another. For others, holding on might be for the sole purpose of collecting. But to amass a collection for the sake of collecting was definitely not my goal.

Reflecting, I think I began keeping each issue simply because I valued the content between the covers.  Training information, columns about the stars of the sport, and fantasies about races in romantic locations all mattered. Years later I realize that I valued the magazines for the stories about the struggles of the development of the sport. I had lived and watched the birth of an international organization and national federations—a new governing of this sport. The development and ongoing life of any government brings politics, and triathlon is certainly no different. In the beginning, I could have cared less about sport governance. Later that would change. The magazines helped me to makes sense of those struggles.

One of the many reasons that modern sport governance was developed has to do with a goal of inclusion in the Olympic Games. Many of the battles and victories associated with the Olympics is revealed on the pages of Triathlete Magazine.

Recently my dad passed away. And while I was going through some of his belongings, through his history, I pondered what would happen to my Triathlete Magazine collection in the future. I wondered if when I’m gone, would the people left to go through my belongings, my history, would have any idea of the value I held for the stories and background documented in the pages of the magazines? Or would they think I was just a hoarder?

Losing significant people in life always has unexpected affects. After the loss of my dad, I decided I wanted the magazine collection to be preserved by someone that is infatuated with the sport. Someone that is a collector and wants to preserve the history documented on the glossy pages. The magazines need a home with someone that values triathlon’s rich past. Someone that won’t pitch them—or our sport’s history--into a recycling bin.

For more on Gale’s Triathlete Magazine collection visit her Facebook page here.