Stupid Triathlon Mistakes, Be Prepared Race Morning

"I've been told that swimming is a wimp sport. I don't see it. We don't get timeouts in the middle of a race, we can't stop and catch our breath, and we can't ask for a substitution."      Dusty Hicks

Just looks fast doesn't she? You bet.

A physicians comment on supplements: "Health food stores are wonderlands of promise.  If people want to burn fat, detoxify livers, shrink prostates, avoid colds, stimulate brains, boost energy, reduce stress, enhance immunity, prevent cancer, extend lives, enliven sex, or eliminate pain, all they have to do is walk in." 
                                                          Paul Offit, MD

This man's job is to prevent female athletes from inadvertently going into the men's changing tent. Despite an orientation the day before, after exiting the swim, at least 20 women tried!  It's Kona.


I was privileged to be in charge of pre-race bike check in Kona.  Maybe next year they'll get someone who really knows what they're doing!  It really went well, mostly thanks to the prolonged efforts of a hard-working group of dedicated volunteers.  We had 6 hours to check-in over 2300 athletes, age groupers and pros alike. 

The desire to race Kona is intense.  So many try for so many years and come up just short in their qualification race.  Each slot in the race is valued.  In fact the Ironman Foundation conducts an annual eBay auction for 4 of them and bids are upwards of $50,000 in some cases.

Thus, this is the most important athletic day of many if not most of these athlete's lives.

So, if it's of such a level of importance, why do some seem so unprepared?  Each receives a many paged set of instructions that has been developed over 38 years of racing leaving little if anything to question.  But some still show up for bike check-in without a helmet, without their bike and run bags, no number on their helmet, in need of bike repair, etc.  I suppose in any large group you'll have a few who make odd choices.  It's just that every athlete who toes the line has put in such effort to get here, it would be a shame to have this opportunity go awry for something so preventable.

Other athletes get nabbed by by the refs for drafting. While the rules are clear, on a rolling course like the Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway course in Hawaii, with so many athletes of similar ability, there's an ebb and flow, speeding up and slowing down, that's it's pretty hard to follow the letter of the law.  Just ask these three athletes I happened to notice toward the end of the race while working as a course guide on the pier.  The dreaded red slash of a violation.

In short, the take home lesson is clear.  Preparation for this race, for any race, is the key to success.  Perhaps like many things in life I suspect.  Check, recheck and then check one more time before you leave home that you have everything. (Have I ever arrived at the race site only to discover that my bike shoes were still at home?  Yes.  But, as importantly, will I ever do it again?)

Can you preview the course the day before?  Maybe a short swim at the venue then drive the run/bike course?  Have supper planned (need reservations?) weeks in advance and get to bed early with everything you'll need for race morning out and ready.  

Get to the event site way early, check in and get your transition situated.  Walk from water's exit to you bike slowly, mentally marking the path, picking a reference for your row of bikes.  Do it again.  Walk from your bike to the T1 exit.  Do it again.  This is enough, making the point that before the race cannon sounds you know everything you're going to do and every place you're going to go.  It will pay off at the post-race picnic when yours is one of the names called for an age group podium finish.  Your reward. 

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