Athletes come in all shapes and forms. The athletes I’m referring to are not professional athletes who are lucky enough to combine their love of sports with a career. I’m talking about people who participate and compete in sports as a hobby. I’m talking about people who have to somehow find the time, energy and (depending on the sport) sometimes quite a bit of money in order to train and compete in the sport or sports they love.
In my eyes, triathletes are a special breed of people. They are people who have enough discipline to train not just in one sport but in three. They have to find a way to become proficient enough in swimming, biking and running in order to compete in a triathlon and finish it. These are people who put in hours of their free time training and learning about the sports, the needed accessories as well as what their bodies are capable of achieving.
Tomorrow morning is the big event for approximately 1200 athletes of all ages who have descended along with their families, friends, teams and coaches in order to take part in the Eilat Triathlon in Israel. It is the 27th Israeli Triathlon Championship. There are some competing to win and those are also the same people who hope to win a place on the Israeli Olympic Triathlon team. (Triathlon become an Olympic sport in 2000.)
There are also many others, like my husband, who are competing against themselves. They know what they are capable of doing and every triathlon they participate in they try to better their performance and time. They have spent months swimming, biking and running as well as nursing injuries along the way. The desire to succeed in the challenge of combining three sports into one is what keeps them going.
The challenge may be what drives these athletes to compete but what about the rest of us, the spectators/cheerleaders? What’s in it for us?
The first triathlon I ever witnessed was last year’s triathlon in Eilat. It was the second one my husband competed and the first one he finished. He had entered the Ashdod triathlon a month earlier but was really bummed out when half way through the bike ride his tire burst and he couldn’t continue. Apparently that was my fault even though I was overseas at time because I had the nerve to ask him a few days earlier whether he had a spare tire to bring along with his bike is case he got a flat. In case you were unsure, triathletes are more than a tad superstitious. As disappointing as not finishing the triathlon was for my husband, within a week he got himself a brand new road bike (with replaceable inner tubes) after realizing he couldn’t really do triathlons on a mountain bike.
What was amazing at the triathlon last year was the energy surrounding the whole triathlon. You felt a rush of adrenaline everywhere you went. (Or maybe that was just my out of shape heart pounding while I tried to catch my breath after running after my husband from place to place trying to photograph him.) But seriously, there was a sense of togetherness, a sense of community, a feeling of understanding between the athletes and also between the spectators. Today as the rest of the athletes are arriving, the energy levels are also going up and the anticipation is rising.
For us, my husband’s triathlons have become family events. As much as he looks forward to participating, we look forward to cheering him on. Triathlons are not a sport for the light hearted and uncommitted. It’s an investment of time, energy and money. (A lot of time, a lot of energy and a quite a fair bit of money.) Is it worth it? Heck yeah!
So why Tri? You tell me why not.
Oh and don’t forget to root for #5348! (In case you noticed a different number on him last year, last year’s number was a temporary one. Now he has a permanent number.)
*Photo credits to the author.