If you have ever wondered why I love my triathlon crew so much, or why I (and many others) think that triathlons and triathletes are the best people in the world, let me share just a few things that occurred over the weekend to confirm that proclamation. We will visit a few different sites, all over North America in the next few minutes, so – hold on….
In Calgary, AL (Canada, eh) – in the IM 70.3 Alberta, two female Pro’s turned a race of over 70 miles into a sprint of 50 yards at the finish. Ohio triathlete and great lady Jennifer Speildenner Whitacre won that epic battle with Rachel McBride, and after the race they hugged, and spent the next few hours laughing and congratulating EACH OTHER on a fantastic effort, and praising the others ability, and continuing that attitude on social media. Can you think of another sport where two professional athletes would exhibit that level of sportsmanship and humanity to each other? Maybe, but there aren’t many, and there should be. Congratulations to Rachel McBride and Jen Speildenner Whitacre for showing the world how true professionals act, publicly and privately.
In Birmingham AL (Y’all) a group of people were watching internet results intently as first time triathlete Dennis Gossard completed his first race after retiring from a 32 year career in the Army. All reports say that he had fun, and is now officially hooked on the tri-ddiction. Congrats Dennis, and welcome to the tri-family.
In Springfield, OH (where we drink “pop”) – The Great Buckeye Challenge saw a record field of folks turn out to compete in Mini, Sprint, Olympic, and Half distance races in what turned out to be record weather conditions. A high pressure system has been hanging over the Midwest all week, and Sunday it decided to turn up the heat. Record high temps, a blazing sun, and stifling air made a challenging race even more difficult, to the point that the Medical and Safety teams made the decision to reduce the final 13.1 mile run portion to a 10K for the safety of the racers. Thanks to race management (HFP Racing) and the Safety and Medical teams for putting racer safety over everything. Racers rule.
The Great Buckeye Challenge had other memorable moments for many racers. More than a dozen racers did the GBC as an “Anniversary Race” since they did the GBC as their first race anywhere from 1, 5, 10, even 15 years ago. Deanna Kiesel of Findlay, OH used it to record her 1005th race (Yes, one thousand and five) race, and Gary Rhoades of State College PA recorded his 800th finish. Wow. We will talk about each of these great people in detail later…
Finally, somewhere between the “we love our volunteers” and “tri-people rock” columns, a story from a racer at the GBC shows the character of both tri racers, and tri volunteers. A half-distance racer finished and went straight to race management to sing the praises of the volunteers.
As the athlete slogged through his final run, his new shoes and lack of socks put blisters that turned to open, bleeding wounds on his feet, to the point that he removed his shoes to run in bare feet on the 115 degree pavement. To say he was in pain was an understatement. At an aid station, a volunteer we’ll call “Tammi” (cause that’s her name) saw his predicament, and literally gave him the socks from her feet! She removed her own socks, helped him sit down, and proceeded to get him situated to finish the race in HER socks. She saved his race, and he knew it. He did finish the race, and when he finished, he made sure everyone knew how much he appreciated the volunteers. (Yes, he kept the socks, and we replaced Tammi’s).
We all know that our volunteers make the race possible, as they get up before we do, they work while we play, and they continue to work after we go home. Thanks again to Tammi and to everyone who has ever volunteered at a race. We don’t always show our appreciation, but we do appreciate you greatly.
Until next time, we’ll see you at the finish line!
The Official Voice of HFP Racing