Saturday, January 10, 2009

It doesn't have to be all about training!!

I wrote a series of articles for a prominent triathlon magazine awhile back for a column idea that my editor liked. Obviously, he and I were the only ones who thought a little light- heartedness was due in the world of Multi-sport publishing. The column went no where. Seems the big publishers believe that if its not about getting faster, going longer or getting stronger then its not an interesting read. I think its not all about the training. Here's an intro into and the article that got the column idea started.

After a long season, the Zuma Sunday regulars of the LA Tri Club were goofing off in the parking lot after a swim/bike/run workout. They were all laughing and trying to do everything in slow motion. The idea struck me that we needed to bring some of the original silliness of the sport of triathlon back ... and thus, the World's Slowest Triathlon was born. Here's the race report as it was published in Triathlete Mag March 2005:

It was a beautiful day to go slow. The water was crisp and clear. The surf moderate. The Santa Ana's were blowing .. so hard in fact, they blew the START sign into shreds. But that only aided those in the first (do I hear second?) World's Slowest Triathlon.

The hysterics began well before the sun came up as Nancy called me in the early am to say that she had the clown suits, had picked up the Kazoos and was running late. No worries. I passed Scott, Jamie and Ian on the road up to Zuma. Each had their game face on ... giant smiles. I love the smell of competition in the morning.

At about 9am, racers began to set up their transitions ... ok ... so they were a little slow to show up on time. As I watched the racers and the volunteers getting ready, I wasn't quite sure who this race was being put on for ... we were all having so much fun. When was the last time you laughed so hard you snorted and drooled?!

After a brief Athlete meeting to go over the course (ok, every time I look at the race map I giggle. Anyone wanting a good giggle just reply to this message and I'll send you a copy), rules and regulations (of course there are rules ... geez ... you think we'd promote chaos with our obsessive compulsive over-achieving control freak triathlete personalities?! My favorite rule is rule number 5. which reads: One, two or three wheeled bikes only (however if you can manage to get a four-wheel beach buggy to Zuma, go for it). No walkers, wheelchairs, skateboards, or any type of locomotion that requires an engine [so don't show up with your uncle's old Fiat and say I can't move because it doesn't start]. Long story. Any other methods of transportation are subject to a Judges approval) ... then the racers walked en mass to the start.

Ian was sacked with the first penalty of the race by pushing a fellow racer to get him to go fast. Then the gun went off and the racers began their slow pursuit of the finish. Konrad flopped like a fish. Ian perfected the "slug" strategy. Nancy P. and Adina, who had lured the fire department over to help pump up their boat, tried unsuccessfully to launch until the lifeguard came by to say it was unsafe and then they proceeded to swim Esther Willams-like onward.

When the racers reached the first human buoy on a surfboard, Scott, instead of rounding it (him) most grabbed onto his surfboard and used it as a kick board. Paul chose an alternate race strategy. He got up on the board and surfed while slowing being propelled by the other racers kicking toward human buoy number two, Mo on his surfboard.

The first out of the water was DJ who's transition area was monitored by his mom Leslie who was cooking breakfast on a Colman stove and reading the paper (the hot cocoa was great, Les. I hope you're satisfied with how DJ placed ... wink wink). DJ's transition was extra long after his cycling attire accidentally caught on fire while his mom was laying it out. Thank goodness we had the Eric and Rosalind relay team representing the Fire Dept to stomp out the fire. No one was hurt.

The girls, Jamie W., Adina and Nancy P. dolled it up for the bike riding two and three wheeled transportation in sparkly colors while sporting wigs, equestrian attire and a pink nightie. Konrad fell off his bike. I believe there was a crash at the turn around that involved Jose, Paul and Champ (some people were so ashamed to participate that they registered under a false identity - probably stolen - and wore a long black wig and ski goggles!)

Crazy antics ensued in T1, T2 and T3 (don't ask). Naps were taken, costumes were changed. At one point, I think someone was leading the group in stretching. Our wonderful volunteers gave racers penalties and points that either added to or subtracted from their overall time.

Ian was last off the bike and was last out of the water ... boy is that guy competitive! He was the favorite to win ... but he went screaming by in a woman's bathing suit, thong underwear on his head, chocolate cigarette dangling from his mouth saying, "I've got to get home". He was penalized for running on the run and ended up with a negative time of -18 hours defying the time/space continuum.

Others found themselves siamesed (yep, new word soon to be added to Webster's Dictionary) to other racers making their way on the run. In fact, I think this may be the first triathlon in the history of the sport where an athlete finished that didn't start: Gabriela was tied to Konrad as he doubled over with cramps. She finished with a respectable time while never having started.

So who won? The relay team of Tran, Lori and John. They played it safe and kept clear of the penalties while John racked up points for being a cute kid in a very adult world. Congratulations to the World's Slowest family.

Actually everyone went home with a medal. Ok, so they were hand-me-downs from a Wildflower race a million years ago with WST 2004 written with a sharpie on the back. Everyone was a winner and enjoyed homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in the World's Slowest Tri in anyway, shape or form. Special thanks goes to Nancy, Tom and Stephanie, the not so Regular Zuma Regulars and Jeannie, Steve, Colin, Elsa and Gabriela. Jamie S. for filming. Brian for the photography. The Academy for my nomination. We love our volunteers too!

Race results and photo's will be posted … slowly.

Yours in slowness,

Julie Silber
Location: Malibu, CA

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