Kevin Shiner, a 30-year-old financial-aid counselor at a Manhattan college who completed his first triathlon last fall (the grueling and legit SavageMan in Maryland) and is training for more events in 2010, can already spot the status-seeking type Cornman is talking about. "For a decent tri bike," he says, "you're spending $4,000 or $5,000. For a decent wet suit, you're spending $400. That's a lot of money for a guy to just be able to say, 'Hey, I finished a triathlon.' " Yes, and as with a membership at Winged Foot or a share in NetJets, that's part of the appeal.

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