The parody account of outspoken super-cyclist Andrew “fast enough to be called a champion” Starykowicz (@TheRealStarky) has become the Twitter handle we all love to hate (scratch that, just love to love), with his unapologetic tweets about other pros, fake sponsors, Ironman, Brett Sutton, his own awesomeness and the admittedly easy target of age-group triathletes.
It didn’t take long before Lance Armstrong caught on, we mentioned him on the back page of our March issue and he gained more followers than Starykowicz himself (actual Starky’s response to that? “I guess it is easier to be a joke than a legend.”)
This morning, a slew of people “confessed” to being @TheRealStarky on Twitter, blogs and websites—a calculated hoax, of course, led by the person behind the account.
Some just tweeted confessions, like pro Mary Beth Ellis (“I need to confess that I am @therealstarky—White milk for all, the Rooster for President, and Valar Morghulis”) and 15-year-old triathlete Sam Lundry (“Anyone who says otherwise is most likely sick from drinking too much Ironman Perform. I am the only @TheRealStarky #IAmTheRealStarky”).
Others put up more elaborate confessions, like Los Angeles-based pro Jim Lubinski, who cited proof of knowing Starykowicz well after he came to stay with him once for a race. “Brash, honest, and ‘confident’ are a few lighter words I would use to describe him,” Lubinski said on his blog this morning. “I like to view my Real Starky alter ego as my way of putting my fist in the teeth of all of the douche bag, bragging, cheating, egotistical, dishonest triathletes/[businesses] in this community that pump themselves up and take advantage in any way they possibly can.”
On first-year pro Randy Arriola’s blog, he said, “You may be asking, how did a generally low key guy come up with the idea for #therealstarky. Well, I really don’t know. …Trying to play pro triathlete wasn’t enough. Even trying to pioneer a new way to cut my toenails wasn’t enough. I needed a dirty way to make fun of triathletes while keeping a cool head. I mean, really, how many goddamn compression socks and visors do we need to see before having an aneurysm?”
While her husband Brandon has been busy fielding emails about whether he’s @therealstarky, pro Amy Marsh “admitted” she’s actually the brains behind the account, claiming she’s been nicknamed “The Truth” for her tell-it-like-it-is attitude and that she has the ability to translate Brett Sutton’s Austranglish after two years on TeamTBB. “Has [Brandon] helped me create this parody? No. Just like my surprise 30th birthday party he kept from me and his parents surprise 40th wedding anniversary that he kept from them, I have been able to keep this a secret from him until now. Let me just say tensions have been high in the Marsh household!”
TJ Tollakson also got in on it (after he woke up and pounded a glass of white milk, of course): “I’ve known Andrew Starykowicz since 2003 as we have raced each other since we were Age Groupers. I thought it was only appropriate to help brand Andrew and show the world how talented Andrew is, but also how he is the Ricky Bobby and Kenny Powers of Triathlon. Andrew’s masterful arrogance, ridiculous quotes, and self-proclaiming prophecies should not go unnoticed. His simple equation of Andrew Starykowicz = man + myth + machine…tells us all we need to know…he is fast enough to be called a champion.”
All the confessions have a seemingly underlying respect for actual Starykowicz. “His clear-cut, gruff style was a breath of fresh, angry air. I wanted to capture that tone and use it to shout at some dummies on the Internet. That is exactly what I did,” said one confessor Devon Palmer. “Why ‘Starky?’” asks age-grouper Rodney Buike. “Well he is idolized by a large number of Slowtwitch forum visitors thanks to his strong bike splits even though he blows up his run most of the time…He has an, umm, attitude that is both arrogant and entertaining.” Karin Langer summed it up: “There are very few people who can get away with saying whatever they think. Jennifer Lawrence. Vladimir Putin. Andrew Starykowicz.” And, although he was too busy to write a full confession, triathlon legend Simon Whitfield emailed to say, “I think he’s funny, it’s great and needed to have personalities in triathlon.”
When asked if he was actually one of his confessors today, @TheRealStarky responded—via his Hotmail account—“No comment.”
He did offer this as insight as to why he has accumulated so many fans:
“I AM THE REAL STARKY is the new I AM SPARTICUS! In the final scene of the famous Kirk Douglas movie, a Roman general stands before the remaining members of a defeated slave army shouting that if they don’t hand over Spartacus, they will ALL be executed. Because he didn’t want his friends to be executed, Spartacus reveals himself by shouting ‘I am Spartacus!’ Then, in order to save Spartacus, each of his fellow slave solders stands and shouts ‘I am Spartacus!’ until the shouts become one loud roar of insistence. The Romans were totally confused. In this same manner, the loyal Starkamaniacs, through their chorus of confessions, have given me the ability to stay anonymous. Anonymity is my shield against triathlon tyranny. Tyranny cannot be tolerated.”
Are you The Real Starky?