A Different Perspective

author : Jerrykyc
comments : 0

By Jerry Kyckelhahn
Author of Chasing Caterpillars 

As you prepare for your first, second or maybe thirtieth race, you have put in perhaps hundreds of hours in training and preparation. Since we are competitors by nature we always want to do better. Even if our goal is not to win an event, we certainly like to have the enjoyment of doing better in each race. While personal bests are hard to determine in triathlon due to varying conditions of each race, personal gratification is easy to recognize. And so we train, and train, and train some more.

So you prepare for a sprint triathlon that will last perhaps an hour or 1-1/2 hours or an Olympic distance event that may last up to three hours. It is exciting to prepare – and then to race. This article provides just a summary inside look behind the scenes of a race to provide a perspective of all that goes on to get that triathlon ready for you. It is a long and often tortuous road to get the course and the incidentals ready, but it is something that everyone who races should appreciate. Why? Because no race, not even the “experienced” races that have been conducted many times before, goes perfectly. An appreciation for all of the preparation that goes into a triathlon event will, I believe, make each event more enjoyable and reduce the anxieties that you, the competitors, might have as you wait for the start.

I recently put on my first triathlon, a small triathlon called the “Chasing Caterpillars Triathlon,” in Stuart, Florida. Because most of the swims that we have in Florida are open water swims, I was invited to help with this triathlon with a pool swim to help introduce new people into the sport that might have fears about open water swims. Yes, there are people that have crazy fears about sharks, alligators or even getting smashed by the raging hordes in the mass starts in the oceans, lakes and lagoons. The event was for a good cause, the Treasure Coast Down Syndrome Awareness Group, so I took on the task and became race director and the guy in charge.   I had no idea of the commitment required to put on even the smallest of events. I will never again complain when a race starts a few minutes late because of traffic controls or drifting buoys! And I will always maintain an appreciation for race directors and for the fine job that USA Triathlon does in assisting in the races.

So while you are training and getting ready to do a race, here is what is happening behind the scenes, all of which combines to require a gargantuan effort.

Sponsors – No race can be profitable without a serious commitment to getting sponsors for the race. Getting sponsors takes a crew of dedicated people that start months before an event convincing local businesses to participate, either because it is a good marketing strategy for their company or because it is a good thing to do, as in the case of charity events.

Facilities – The three sports of triathlon obviously require facilities for each. Whether the swim is open water or a pool swim, a facility is required. This involves costs for the physical facility as well as for the lifeguards and route persons. And this can require significant coordination to get a date set that is available for all three facilities. Additionally, for all swims, buoys and other controls must be in place before the swim start.

The bike leg will generally require the use of public roads, and that requires coordination and approvals from local officials, safety personnel, traffic departments and police. This often requires preparation of an engineered Maintenance of Traffic Plan which has to be approved by the appropriate local government. To effect the traffic control, cones and signs must be procured and arrangements must be made for police support and volunteer support for hazardous areas. Since the traffic control devices cannot be put out until the day of the event and police approval is required before race start, race starts can easily be delayed if anything goes wrong or over schedule. There is very little time in the morning to get everything in place before early race starts. (NOTE: In the case of our small sprint triathlon, 800 cones had to be placed along with approximately 40 traffic signs, all before 7:00 in the morning. We almost made it on time!)

The run, thankfully, generally is not so difficult but still often uses public roads or walks and again requires approvals from local officials.

USA Triathlon – We are fortunate to have USAT to assist in the set up and standardization of the events. This organization provides for both competitor and event insurance without which most events would not happen. Additionally, they provide the rules under which we operate and officials to monitor and marshal the races. Coordination, however, must start early to insure that everything is covered and that the timing of the event is well orchestrated and reported. Each competitor must either have annual membership or pay a one-day membership fee and this too requires coordination.

Registration – Once the event is scheduled, marketing and registration efforts have to begin, and they must start early. At least six months prior to an event both registration and marketing have to start. The web and Facebook are essential to all events, but particularly to new events.

Timing – It is critical that a good and experienced timing company is contracted to support the event. And again, it is critical to get one lined up early to insure that the company is available for the date of the event. Timing companies have busy schedules. And the input from the timing company must come back to the race director to forward to USAT for their results.

Other simultaneous activities:

Transition area preparation and set up

Mailers and web page updates

Tee shirts or race shirts

Awards and participation medals and trophies

Water, drinks and water stops

Pre and post-race refreshments

Volunteers

Sound systems and announcers

And the list goes on….

So while we competitors have spent perhaps hundreds of hours in preparation for the event, the race team has spent thousands of hours doing their best to make sure that the event happens and that it goes well. Have fun at the race and be thankful for the event and all that has gone.

Early morning triathlon setup

Triathlon workers behind the scenes

The Mulling Girls

 


About the book “Chasing Caterpillars

The book, “Chasing Caterpillars”, speaks to those persons who are standing on the edge, thinking about doing a triathlon, or even training for one, but still hesitant to take the plunge. It is a light, fun and motivating book designed to entice newcomers or wannabe’s to go ahead and just do it. The book relates the life experience of the author with the adventures and misadventures that befall the new triathlete. It particularly relates to those of the over 50 age group that have serious doubts. Fear not-- so says the book!

Rating

Click on star to vote
2004 Total Views  |  1885 Views last 30 days  |  85 Views last 7 days
date: June 23, 2014

Author


Jerrykyc

Jerry Kyckelhahn, is far from a life-long athlete. Compared to the athletes of today, Jerry got a delayed start into triathlon, a delay of about 50 years. His experiences and late entry into sports ultimately led to a Pan American Continental Master’s championship in track sprints and finally to a USAT long course triathlon national championship. But his focus has never been on winning but rather on participation and health and fitness. He has written many previous local and national articles most of which have addressed how to have fun in triathlon and biking.

Author

avatarJerrykyc

Jerry Kyckelhahn, is far from a life-long athlete. Compared to the athletes of today, Jerry got a delayed start into triathlon, a delay of about 50 years. His experiences and late entry into sports ultimately led to a Pan American Continental Master’s championship in track sprints and finally to a USAT long course triathlon national championship. But his focus has never been on winning but rather on participation and health and fitness. He has written many previous local and national articles most of which have addressed how to have fun in triathlon and biking.

View all 8 articles