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Triathlon Bodies in Motion: Reconceptualizing Feelings of Pain, Nausea, and Disgust in the Ironman Triathlon

Journal article
Authors Jesper Andreasson
Thomas Johansson
Published in Body & Society
Volume 25
Issue 2
Pages 119-145
ISSN 1357-034X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 119-145
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X187...
Keywords abject, discipline, embodiment, ethnography, Ironman Triathlon, sacred
Subject categories Sociology

Abstract

This study focuses on the physical expressions and intensity of embodiment that occur in the Ironman Triathlon. More specifically, the study investigates the transformational bodily experiences taking place during Ironman competitions. Using an ethnographic approach, a total of 29 Ironman triathletes participated in the study (15 men and 14 women). Theoretically, the article focuses on how triathletes’ bodies ‘move’ between different forms of embodiment. The results show that, in the process of disciplining the body, the athletes reconceptualized feelings of pain, nausea and even disgust, making these emotionally expressive aspects of the corpus into a part of the experience and bending them towards the pleasure of reaching potential divinity. Situated in a long tradition of philosophical and sociological explorations of the transgressing and transcending body, the study interprets and understands the performing body as a site for change and utopian possibilities. Thus the study adds to existing debates on contemporary individuals’ exploration of the existential and corporeal dimensions of modernity.

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