Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rick's First Blog Entry

So Katie has been encouraging me for quite a while to provide a post for this blog. We talked about a few topics that I could use for an entry, but I just haven't pulled the trigger. Until now.

The topic I've chosen isn't something I feel strongly about or something I got too excited about. I just found some time and this was on my mind. The topic is the Sprint Triathalon that happened this past Saturday. I've worked the run/bike transition for several years and the experience is very similar every year. I enjoy working this event because of the diversity in the participants. There are athletes completing the run course (~3 miles) in 17 minutes and there are kids riding their bikes with 16 inch wheels and streamers on the handle bars. There were several bikes with aero wheels and several with baskets and/or bells.

But the triathalon is also the day that I have to be a big meanie. I think I'm starting to soften some, because I had a hard time motivating myself to be a meanie this year, but I still think I managed. Why do I have to be meanie? Because it communicates to people, and it is the only way to communicate to some (some I still didn't get through to). I have to shout at spectators in a less than pleasant tone to chase them out of the transition area, or to get people to stop riding their bikes in the transition area, or to buckle their helmets.

I feel strongly about chasing people out of the transition area because I have seen what happens when they don't listen. One of the first times I worked the transition area, a family with three young girls showed up very late, after the first heat had already started the run course. I encouraged them to quickly place their bikes and move out of the area. As the time approached for the first runners to be coming through, I told them they had to leave. When they didn't leave, I asked again with more urgency. When I saw the first runners finishing, I told them they had to leave immediately. Of course they didn't leave and the next thing I knew there was a girl (probably 8 years old) laying on the ground crying after a collision with one of the top competitors. So I felt that some of that collision was my fault because I was the "transition guy." So that's why I run around encouraging people to stay out of the area and even picked up a young toddler on Saturday to carry him out to his mother. I don't want to see another kid (or adult) laying flat on their face in the transition area.

One thing I found interesting on Saturday was all of the reasons people came up with why the rules didn't apply to them.

The rule about staying out of the transition area didn't apply to them because "I just have to get something real quick," or "I was already past the tape when I realized I'm not supposed to be in here, so I'll just cross the rest of the way." One guy told me he would just look to make sure that he wasn't in a competitor's way. Do people realize what they are saying? Do they stop to think what would happen if everyone took the same approach? But no, the rule applies to everyone else... But like I said, I'm headed towards becoming a softie. One woman wanted to put an encouraging sign near her daughter's bike, and I offered to do it for her.

Most people who we had to tell to push their bike instead of ride it out of the transition area were quick to hop off. They didn't even realize they were supposed to push it to the mount line or force of habit caused them to throw a leg over and start riding. But there was also a guy who rode his bike through the entire transition area after three (maybe four) of us told him to get off his bike and push it. He explained to us that he was already clipped in and he couldn't clip out. Yeah right. If that was true, I'd like to see what happened when he got to the end of the bike ride.

I did try to offset all of those corrections with some encouragement too. I clapped and told people, "way to go" or "nice job, keep it up." So maybe not everyone sees me as the transition meanie.


  1. Wow! I'm really surprised that so many would break the rules. At the triathlons in which I've competed, they are VERY strict about those rules. They will disqualify any participant who has family in the transition area, and they will assign time penalties to those getting on their bike before the assigned spot. So Rick, you are not as mean as you think!

    However, the folks following the rules REALLY appreciate people like you who keep the chaos to a minimum and help prevent those collisions you mentioned. So there is always that. :)

  2. Good job, my blogaholic hubbie!! All kidding aside, I admire all of the volunteering that you do for the Track Club. It is great being married to a fellow runner. And I do hope you'll do your other entry we've been talking about!

  3. Oh Rick, Rick, Rick....try being the dismount meanie. I got that fun job this year (my first time to even be at a tri, much less volunteer at one). There were 2 of us, thankfully, but there were a few people we had to scream at to "dismount". When one poor lady fell (I think because of us yelling at her), I decided I don't want that job next year! As Jane said above, I have heard most races disqualify for riding past the dismount line-which we did not do. That would be the ultimate bad job. Great first post! :D