As well as the Iron Man event growing to massive proportions over the past 30 years, the local obsession with triathlon competitions has also increased, say representatives of the Israel Triathlon Association. "First you have to differentiate between Iron Man and a triathlon," explains the association's spokesman Yuval Hetz. "In Israel, there is no Iron Man competition, only sporadic events from time to time. However, the interest in all these type of races is definitely growing." The standard or Olympic triathlon, he says, is roughly half the distances of a full Iron Man race (1.5-km. swim, 40-km. bike ride and 10-km. run) and therefore doable for many more people. "Participation in triathlon competitions here has steadily been growing over the past five years," continues Hetz, noting that roughly 200 Israelis travel abroad each year for Iron Man. "While five years ago we had about 40 or 50 participants, our last race in May brought out about 200 competitors." He says that the association, which provides support for a variety of sporting events, had roughly 650 members six years ago and by the end of this year is predicting close to 2,800. "The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney was the first time a triathlon event was ever included and it received a lot of publicity," says Hetz. "Since then, more media attention has been given to it, meaning even more people have become interested in it."