Goofy Multisport Moments
For the past several months, I’ve been itching to write a blog post about some of those funny, goofy and occasionally embarrassing moments that we all have – now and then – while racing. With the season behind us, now is the perfect time to shake off the seriousness and share a laugh or two over our common (mis)adventures.
Why would I want to write about something like this? Well, behind the game faces that many of us have on race day are tales of experiences that definitely didn’t go according to plan. Whether you're a veteran or a newbie, a MultiSport Canada Ambassador or someone who likes to stay behind-the-scenes, the best thing to do is to laugh and then hopefully learn from the experience. Or perhaps just laugh.
As you'll see, some of these tales come from my own experiences. Some of these moments come from a few friends from the Skechers MultiSport Canada duathlon community, but names have been changed in order to protect their hard-earned reputations as intense athletes! Either way, the moral of the story is that we all go through them at one time or another.
Let's start with one of my own stories. I’ve gave up coffee (and also caffeine) in March 2015, with the exception of race situations. Over the past three seasons, I’ve been experimenting i an effort to find the perfect number of gels to both fuel (but not over-fuel) me for a standard distance duathlon. In Gravenhurst this year, I admit that I may have overdid it on the caffeine. Midway through the bike leg, the gels kicked in. Suddenly, the sun was shining brighter, the colours around me were more vivid and I was on top of the world. During the second run, I had to fight to stay focused, because I really wanted to talk to everyone I saw. I allowed myself to cheerfully greet all of the volunteers and… I applauded all of the elite triathletes that had reached the turnaround and were heading to the finish and… I cheered all of the athletes behind me as I returned to the finish line. The #smilingassassin in action.
A couple hours later, I went for lunch. By this time, I just wanted the caffeine buzz to stop, and thankfully, eating a large meal calmed me down. Suffice to say, I had no post-race nap that day.
These little critters pop up in the darndest of places… My friend Aidan recalls a time when he raced with a helmet that had a mesh liner in it. While he was out on his first run and his helmet waited in transition, a wasp decided to land inside and made itself comfortable. Then the 40 km ride began, at which point the little guy started stinging Aidan’s scalp. Aidan carefully plays by the rules so he didn’t take off his helmet for fear of getting DQ’ed, which meant he had a very sore head for the second run. Let’s hope he got an ice pack at the finish line! Having learned the hard way, he now gives his helmet a shake as part of his T1 routine to get rid of angry wasps.
(Just the thought of this gives me shivers.)
Another friend, Kate, shared a meal with some six legged friends. At a summertime race, she partially opened a gel she was leaving in transition, thinking it would make it easier to use during the second run. So far, so good. Problem was, it got so hot the gel expanded and oozed out. That proved too tempting to a local army of ants, which marched in, camped and made a meal of it. Not needing the extra protein, Kate decided she didn’t want the gel after all. No word on how the caffeine affected the little guys.
They’re wonderful pieces of technology, but why do they disappear so easily? Andrea spiked her heart rate into zone 5 when she thought she lost her chip pre-race – only to find it velcro’ed to her knapsack. It always makes sense at the time, right?
My issue tends to be remembering to get my chip after registration. I was once in the start corral at the MultiSport Canada Toronto Island duathlon, ready to go, until announcer Steve Fleck made his customary reminder to secure your timing chip – at which point I looked down, gasped and took off running to get mine.
Greg is a triathlete who recalls his first season in multisport and his second ever race – a triathlon. Having completed the swim, he was struggling to get his wetsuit off. When he finally managed, he quickly exited transition to ride away, wondering why he didn’t beep like everyone else when he crossed the mat. To his dismay, he realized he had taken his timing chip off in order to squeeze his leg out of the wetsuit. Lesson learned.
For Tina, her proudest goofy moment is learning the flying mount. The experts advise that athletes don't try something new on race day and Tina swears she practiced, but the video of her trying to mount her bike at the Kingston duathlon – and the post-race bruises! - make that a little hard to believe. In her words, it looked “like something out of the Three Stooges, except there was only one and that would be me.” But hey, we've all suffered from the effects of race brain when things that work in training go completely off the rails during the main event.
The flying squirrel technique, done correctly.
Transition and Helmets
You’ve heard the urban legend about the triathlete who mounted their bike with their aero helmet pointed the wrong way? Well, Derek, one of my duathlete friends, actually forgot to take off his helmet during T2 and took off on his run still wearing it. Heck, it’s good for a couple seconds saved and a killer transition split, but unfortunately, it’s illegal. The rules state that in such a situation, you must correct or DQ, which means you need to turn around and bring your helmet back to transition. If you toss it to the side of the road it is a discard penalty (and you could damage a nice helmet). Note to self: practice transition!
Kate had gloves on at a cold, wet, late season race and could not get her helmet done up in T1. She struggled as she watched women she had passed during the first run now hop on their bikes and zoom away into the distance. She would have taken off her gloves to buckle the helmet, but figured she’d never get them on again because her fingers were so cold and wet. As the clock ticked and the heat she had generated during the run started to disappear, she fought with the clasp and even turned away an offer of help from a nearby athlete, figuring (likely correctly) that it would be against the rules. When she finally fastened it, she looked at her watch and realized she had spent over two minutes in transition, the majority of which was due to the buckle.
My race kit looked like this too.
Years ago, MultiSport Canada used to host a race at Binbrook Conservation Area, near Hamilton. I was pushing hard on the first run, racing neck-and-neck with a fellow athlete as we sprinted along the gravel and grass paths, back towards transition. As we ran over the timing mat, we were truly neck-and-neck. I followed him to our bikes and as he grabbed his, a cold shiver ran down my back. “Where is my bike??” My friend was now running toward the exit while I did a graceful ballet pirouette, spinning and looking frantically for my bike, which was a full rack away. I never did catch him….
Joseph says his “biggest blunder of all time” was an unfortunate choice of race gear on a day when the weather was wet, windy, 7C - an dropping. For some reason, he decided a thin base layer with an ultra-light aero jersey would be sufficient for the event. Joseph neglected to consider that there would be 40 km of riding with descents that hit 70 km/hr – intense on the best of days, let alone in these conditions. Joseph also figured that putting on booties over his heavily vented tri bike shoes – advertised as great for drying wet feet in the summer! – would lose him too much time in T1. About 8 km into his ride, the gloves were soaked and useless. By the 12 km mark, he still appeared to be smiling, but it may have been just his teeth chattering. By the 40 km mark, nearly all spectators had vacated the premises to go inside and warm up. As of the time of this writing, Joseph still hasn’t thawed out, but once he does, I suspect he’ll look back at that race and wonder what the heck he was thinking.
There is something about racing that brings us closer to one another. I remember chuckling as a guy behind me in the registration line at Gravenhurst bragged / complained / observed to everyone around that he had already hit the porta-potty four times – and it was only 7:00 a.m. in the morning! Note to self: coffee + nerves + multisport = Too Much Information!
As the weather is now chilly in Canada, I hope this post inspires you to take a look back and laugh at some of your funny race moments from the summer.