Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Becoming involved in a triathlon can be quite addicting whether you are a spectator, volunteer, supporter or an actual participant.

The training necessary to compete in one of these events is quite intense and a devoted commitment.

A triathlon is a multi-sport endurance event consisting of swimming, cycling, and running in immediate succession over various distances.

Triathletes compete for fastest overall course completion time in swimming, biking, and running components. Demanding training and workouts are necessary to ensure the participants have the endurance, strength, and power to compete on race day.

Rain or shine the event goes on. This is one event that a rainy day may even be preferred over a hot, humid one.

The event I photographed this weekend consisted of a 1.25 mile swim, 56 mile bike course, and finishing with a 13.1 mile run to the finish.

The swim course is in a fresh water lake, with buoys to mark the distance. The average water temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees, making a wetsuit necessary for warmth and buoyancy.

All swim starts are in “waves” of competitors arranged by age groups or relay teams that begin in five minute intervals.

The beginning of the race is filled with anticipation and excitement as the siren sounds and the competitors fight for position. It is not uncommon to have a foot in your face or another athlete swimming over you.
Dealing with the cold water, aggressive swimmers, dark water, and disorientation means that this portion is usually the least favorite and most worrisome for the athletes.

But once they emerge from this portion, the competitors are ready for their individual challenges continuing with the bike ride.

The next portion includes a 56 miles bicycle ride over rolling hills for a ride consisting of quick downhills, strenuous uphills and strong headwinds. If the rider does not keep up the momentum, the hills can start to wear them down particularly on the return back to the “transition” area.

One competitor passed at least 15 people on the course with flat tires and tubes all over the place. Quick recovery gets them back into the competition. But once again, preparation is the key.

The final leg of the race is the 13.1 mile run. On a sunny day the course can wear the competitor down as there are long stretches with little shade.

With the assistance of many necessary volunteers, the athletes are greeted with welcoming cheerleaders along the way offering water, power aid, oranges, bananas or even a cold blast of water from a sprinkler!

The final stretch often empowers the athletes with a sudden surge of intensity and perseverance.

Watching the support amongst the racers, families, friends, and the entire community is very uplifting.
It’s hard not to feel the sense of accomplishment and celebration of what our bodies can do when we set our minds to it!

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