Karmea Athlete Liz Stapleton is an Ironwoman and then some! She swims, bikes, runs, is one of the most dedicated athletes we know, and is a true example of never giving up on your dreams. Juggling kids, her fitness business, and a busy life with husband Giles, she also battles constant knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Liz recently raced Noosa Olympic, making a return to short course racing after her first Ironman at Cairns in June. Here’s the reason she feels we all keeping on tri-ing.
[Original posted on Liz’s blog Fit & Fabulous at 40Plus]
I have just returned from Noosa, the biggest triathlon in the world! With 8000+ competitors and a week-long festival of events leading up to it – it surely is the biggest AND best triathlon in the world.
People fly in from all over Australia to compete. In the days prior, the planes are chock-a-block with bike boxes. In the days after, the airports are full with sun burnt, party-weary athletes all sporting a gigantic number tattooed on their left arms like a badge of honour. Each athlete eyes up the others wondering if they fared better or worse than their own result. Not much is spoken but everyone has that KNOWING look – the look of sport, the look of having been there, the look of accomplishment.
This year the chat was all about the strong swell in the swim and the heat. Some didn’t do as well as they had hoped, some completed their first big triathlon and for many it was a lifetime achievement. But for all – it was the BEST. The best supported, the best organised, the best fun – and they will all be back next year!
How can an event like a triathlon spark such interest, such devotees and such passion? It all sounds rather farcical really – a swim, followed by a bike ride and, if that were not enough, a run to finish it all off. Why? Why do we do it to ourselves? It was by no means comfortable battling the swell, cycling into the headwind or beating the pavements in the midday temperatures. In fact, in hindsight, it was all quite hard!
But 8000 of us were there. We came in all different shapes and sizes, different states of fitness, different experience levels. We had bikes ranging from department store specials to bike shop models or an overseas import – and for the top guys, a sponsored bike worth nearly $20,000. Some wear branded tri suits – others swimmers and floppy shorts.
Some powered through the swell barely affected. I passed others who breast-stroked their way around the course watching the pack as they powered by. Down on my tri bars I sailed past ladies barely breaking a sweat smiling at all the spectators. As I ran around the streets of Noosa I passed people walking, chatting and high fiving the kids at roadside.
Everyone was there. Triathlon at this level does not self-select the lean ones, the muscly ones, the elite runners. It invites all to have a go and participate. If you can’t swim yet – then, no worries. Start with a small event and get used to steering yourself around other more accomplished open water swimmers. If you have never cycled on the roads – don’t panic. Start inside on a trainer and get friends to go with you for your first road trip. Every triathlon is held on closed roads anyway so you can’t fall off in front of a car. And if you don’t think you can cope with running 10km yet then start with a shorter distance event and build up to it – or plan to walk and enjoy the atmosphere.
Because triathlon is not one sport but three – it gets the complete mix. If you can’t win your local park run – no problem. Maybe you are a better swimmer than the man that does win the park run. If you are always last in the swim squad then possibly you will hammer the competition on the bike. Triathlon takes all sorts – and that’s why it’s so special and why it is the fastest growing participation sport in the world.
No one will be left to come across the finish line by themselves. No one will be left to drown in the ocean and if your bike-legs give up on you then the sag wagon will bring you home. No one will laugh if you walk, no one will judge you if your swim is 30 minutes slower than the winner. No one grins if your bike handle bars are flat and tyres fat.
But everyone will congratulate you when you cross the finish line. Everyone will buy you a beer the night you have completed your first triathlon. And everyone feels amazing after the event is over no matter how long it took them.
And if you still don’t know WHY you would want to try a triathlon then you probably have missed the point of this article.
Let’s just say it’s because you are worth investing time in to achieve something amazing. Because it’s not always about the kids or the dogs – it’s about doing something for YOURSELF. Because it’s FUN. Because you CAN. Because ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.