Are We Having Fun Yet?

author : Ontherun
comments : 0

Many of us race, and some race a lot, but when was the last time you gave something back to the sport of triathlon?

I recently volunteered for a sprint distance race in Boston. My reasons were partly self-serving. I belong to a local tri club, TriFury, and they have awards for participation in a certain number of team events. I needed to complete one more race or volunteer at the Boston race to meet my goal of three team events this season.

What I got was a lot more than I bargained for. As a racer, I interact with other racers a lot. Rarely do I get a chance to watch a race, let alone get to see the race through the staff’s eyes. Unfortunately, this race was canceled, mostly due to high winds predicted during the event. I showed up on race morning, not knowing the race had been canceled the night before. Most of the racers and volunteers apparently knew this, for I was one of only 7 volunteers to show up at 5 AM Sunday morning. I decided to stay and help with logistics. Some racers were coming in to check in, and I stood out in the rain to help stop them from un-racking there gear and heading into the venue to check in. I only got to a few racers, but they were appreciative.

We were told we could go at 7AM, for not much was happening. I decided to stay and assist with helping racers un-rack bikes from transition that were set up the day before. What I found was amazing. I only saw one very disgruntled racer, one of the same in the volunteers, and only heard of one more from the organizers. The rest of the racers were very understanding. They were grateful for the help getting the bikes. It was just a little confusing since the racks were being taken down as the number of bikes decreased. Most of them thanked us for staying and helping anyways.

What I took away from the experience is twofold. Firstly, our races cannot exist without the help of the volunteer community. I have made it a goal of mine to help out with at least on triathlon race per season, just to give back the way others have given to me. The other thing I took out of the experience was a little broader. A large number of the racers I met were planning on this being there first race ever! How cool it would have been to actually see all of them race.

Then it hit me—so many people who race triathlons just want to finish. This perspective allowed me to think of a few things I have done in the past and how important they can be. First, I try to thank everyone on the course that I can, from the police, to the volunteers, to the spectators standing in rainstorms cheering. I also attempt words of encouragement to those who are struggling on the course. Those words have meant a lot to me when I am beat up.

The last thing that I can do in future races is realize that some racers just want a cool finishing photo. Racing to the line is all part of the game, but if you can do it without getting in the way of someone else’s photo, all the better. We belong to a really cool community of athletes and friends. Remembering these things as we get further into our hobbies will help the sport remain fun and lighthearted. Do not get me wrong, good fair competition is what any sport is about, but some of us compete for more than just a PR. Keep smiling, pass on the good will, and above all, have fun—we are all just kids trying to never grow up :)

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date: October 1, 2006

Ontherun

Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03

avatarOntherun

Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03

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