A gaggle of tanned, trim, hairless-legged moviegoers will swarm theaters across the country this Wednesday to see We Are Triathletes.
The ambitious project funded by Yanfeng Zhang, who now has a page on IMDB, is a feature length documentary following the paths of 6 athletes - pro, age group, and challenged - as they prepare and race Challenge Roth.
Beyond these six, another star of the movie is Challenge Roth, and viewers will come away with a clearer understanding of why this is a pilgrimage race, considered by many the premier multisport experience in the world.
We've had movies about cyclists, and about runners, but never a feature-length movie in theaters about triathlon. "Yan funded this film himself because of his love of the sport," said Bob Babbitt to me as I asked him about this movie. Bob is an executive producer.
A threshold of tickets must be sold in each of the 150-plus theaters in the US in which the movie is scheduled. If not enough tickets are sold, the movie will cancel for that screen. I'll be seeing this movie in Santa Clarita, California, and of the 160 seats in that theater just north of 100 tickets have already been sold.
By my rough count about 80 percent of theaters have met their screening threshold in ticket sales as of this writing. Theaters in Boston, Dallas, Chicago have sold out.
I met Yan in 2015 in Kona at a press conference for the Chinese media just after Dalian Wanda purchased Ironman. Yan was the translator. Yan is Chinese by birth, though he's lived in the US for 21 years. The triathlon bug bit him in 2011 and making this movie, "was purely out of passion."
Yan discovered that movie making, like Ironman racing, is an inspirational thought followed by months of hard, thankless, painful work. "Originally, I wanted to make it commercially and artistically successful. I was pretty naïve. Once I started I just wanted to finish."
He also felt a burden to produce a first-class product. "I represent this community. I didn’t want to disappoint those athletes and fans."
Yan's finish line, and the first movie about triathlon, arrives Wednesday. Here's where to find theaters and purchase tickets.
The movie will air in Canada one day later than in other countries (on August 9th), and the links for ticket purchases in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the UK, Germany are found on the movie's Facebook page.