Transition is my favorite spot in a race.
I have noticed, over my limited triathlon life, that there seems to be a pattern of the type of racers at any given event. I didn’t give it much thought until my last race, when setting up in transition I noticed a couple of familiar faces. Not actual people I know, but personalities.
So…..hopefully good for a laugh, here are the types I can usually spot out while setting up my bike.
This is his first race, or maybe his first season. Has a bright shinny new bike, all the widgets, and way too much water. All of his gear is transported to transition in a fancy backpack. He can talk the talk, but rarely can he walk the walk. He crumbles after the starting guns goes off and is happy just to cross the finish line. I was this guy once, and so were you.
You know this guy by name and have told stories about him to your buddies. This is the guy everyone wants to be. Fast, sponsored, friendly, and most important, sponsored. Lined up at the waters edge like a drag racer, he dives in with purpose. Coincidentally, this is the last time you will see him until the starting line of the next race.
The Old Guy
Telling stories from Ironman ’96 in between sips of his take out coffee (Tim Horton’s yo!), you think at least there is one guy that you will finish ahead of. His bike is old; you may not even recognize the make and/or model and you are surprised to see just a single water bottle. He passes you 2k into the run.
This guy is just hanging out, only the occasional ‘hello’ as people pass him setting up in transition. He leads out if the water and never looks back. No one would have believed it before the start.
The Young Gun
This kid shows up 5 minutes after transition closes looking like he is hung over, yet doesn’t seem in any rush. All of his gear is in a garbage bag and it consists of shoes, helmet, and sunglasses. That’s it. This is the guy who decided to rack his bike in my spot last year in T2, thanks buddy.
Typically found in packs, not sure why. Safety I guess? They don’t socialize with any other racers except to brag about how fast they were in training. You finish ahead of every single one.
This racer is cheering one everyone he passes, or gets passed by. Volunteers are the main target, with “thanks guys” or “you are awesome” being heard as he zips along the course. Trying to motivate less than happy racers, he has also been known to slap shoulders, backs, or the occasional butt to help get to the top of the hill or start running after an aid station. This is the guy I try to be each race. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
You are not exactly sure why they have signed up for a Half Ironman, and less sure that they will survive. They do survive, and get the loudest cheers coming down the finishing chute. Like Scott Jurek says, it takes more guts to struggle and finish then to win a race.
Dishing advice to a question that nobody asked. “You should rack like this” or “Make sure it is in this gear”. I figure the only way this guy has the time to dish out the piles of advice; he ain’t racing. I have never seen him on the beach, course, or finishing line. Just smile and nod.
Head to your next race, look around transition, and see if you can spot some.
Question: Do you identify with any above? Is any I missed?