What is better than racing in a triathlon? Being a race director, for one.
Sure it’s a challenge. It’s a long road of hurdles to climb over to reach the end. You see, this is my first time organizing a triathlon. Yes, I’ve organized a “fun” triathlon, but this one was the real deal.
Contacting people for permits, insurance, permission, prizes, volunteers, ambulance attendants, traffic control, ordering shirts, and so much paperwork can be mentally exhausting. Using GPS to make sure the course is EXACTLY a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run so the athletes can possibly get their personal best times or if it’s their first time, possibly their biggest physical challenge. A whole day is spent loading all the equiptment and setting it up. Cleaning the road of glass, rocks and dust. Making sure every small detail is taken care of so no one can get hurt.
The race started at 11 am on Sept. 16. At 9 am, the racers start coming in to pick up their race package, the volunteers all start coming in, and they all want to know where to go, what to do? I was flooded and had to take a step back to process. Then I stepped forward and started delegating jobs and answering questions, “you marshal that corner”, “you put the kayaks and buoys here and there”, “you make sure the cars aren’t parking on the course”, “you put the pilons on this road”, and “Yes, Mr Triathlete, you’ll be swimming in a counter clockwise direction so you won’t have to swim into the wind and waves”.
It’s 10:30 am and the army of Super Volunteers all know what they have to do. The race meeting is over, all the athletes know which direction to swim, bike and run. They know the rules of what they can and can’t do. Everything is running smoothly, I’m starting to relax.
Now it’s 11 am and I’m blowing the air horn to start the race. The crowd of spectators on the beach has just chanted in unison the countdown from 10 to one. Even though I’ve race almost 30 triathlons, this one is exhilirating, with the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. It finally has finally started and I’m on top of the world. It’s like Christmas morning when you are watching your children and family opening their presents, and I’m thinking to myself, “All these people are here to try out the course I’ve designed, they want to give it, and me a chance.” I’m very proud of myself.
The racers start coming out of the water and heading out onto the bike course. Now they’re gone, but they’ll be back soon. Back soon and safe, a little more tired, but ready to take on the run. They’ll be safe, as I have confidence in the people I’ve designated to make sure the course is safe with signs and pilons. They’ll ride along Pavilion Lake and Crown Lake in Marble Canyon, and gasp at its beauty. Momentarily it will take their minds off of how hard they are working to ride as fast as possible.
It’s 11:45, and here they come, jumping off their bikes at 15km/h and running into transition to put their running shoes on and pound the pavement. The intense look of focus, everything has to be done with focus in transition to make it go as fast as possible. Your legs are exhausted from pushing hard into the wind on the bike course. Now they find out if the Brick training they’ve done has paid off. (Brick training is when you go for a hard bike ride, then immediately put your running shoes and run as fast as you can for a short distance to simulate the transition. Your legs don’t want to run, they feel wooden, or like your running on someone else’s legs.)
At 12:03 pm they start crossing the finish line. Very tired, the winner pushes hard to prove to himself, his spectators, the volunteers and all his friends who are going to see the results on the internet, that he did his best to win. I shake his hand and continue to shake the sweaty hands of people coming across the finish line. I congratulate them and thank them for coming to the Pavilion Triathlon. Everyone has worked so hard to train to do this race. They’ve brought their families for long drives just to watch daddy, mommy or loved ones cross the finish line.
It’s worth it to see their smiling sweaty faces as they cross the finish line. To see the athletes in transition talking and laughing about how great the swim was, how scenic the bike course was, or how they ran as fast as they could so the competitor behind them couldn’t pass and take away the hard work they’d done to win their age group.
Prior to the race I had a few people approach me and say “why would you organize a triathlon way out here?” After the race the same people approached me and said, “Okay, I get it now.” One very seasoned triathlete came to me and said “That was the nicest open water swim I’ve ever done.” Another said, “This is the way I remember triathlons being, grassroots, small, fun, and yet still competitive.”
The locals from Smith Rd. in Pavilion came out of their cottages, not to race, but to help volunteer, to take pictures, help clean up, or just to stand on the sidelines and cheer on the competitors, they just wanted to be part of the experience.
Thank you to my family, friends, volunteers, Kamloops Triathlon club, all the sponsors like Taboo Cycles, Runner’s Sole, Multisport Solutions, Nature’s Fare, Booster Juice, etc etc for making the Pavilion Triathlon a huge success.
I’m sure 2013 will be a year that many people who were volunteering this year, or perhaps standing on the sidelines, will be training for the Pavilion Triathlon, so they too can feel that rush of personal success, with many highs and lows along the way.