Last night at intervals there was a debate. On one side, some guys I ride with were complaining about racing old pros (like Steve Larsen and Troy Jacobson) and talking about the "people who have time to train". On the other hand, I was arguing that at any race you take on "all comers". This started an interesting debate.
I believe that you never lose those skills that you hone as a pro. Steve Larsen will never forget how to ride like an animal. Troy Jacobson (a low 4:30 biker in Kona - on the OLD, tougher course) will never forget how to prepare. The only difference is their amount of preparation for whatever race they are doing. Now, they are doomed to roam the Earth as a "normal" triathlete with a job and family responsibilities. If you notice, Larsen and Jacobson have raced age group and still have gotten beat by others. The gap between what is a pro and an amateur in triathlon (due to the lack of money in the sport) is narrow. Mainly, our sport is a wealthy one. The fastest cyclist in IL right now is 50! Why? He has a successful business on auto-pilot, kids in college and has plenty of money to purchase good coaching, an SRM and time to train properly. Note as well, Karen Smyers, Fernanda Keller are still racing pro in their 40s.
EPO Users & Steroid Users:
Bring your barrel chested (guys) to any race. I'll look forward to racing you when the side effects of your drug use catch up to you. Admitted drug users like Nina Kraft are allowed to race after serving a suspension, but for me that isn't enough. I'd like a lifetime ban for drug cheats and tougher testing. Testing should happen in the age groups as well. Podium at any sanctioned race USAT, ITU, WTC and you should have to supply a blood, hair and urine sample. It will be interesting to see what health effects there are on triathletes who dope in the future. How many age group athletes die in their late 40s, 50s, 60s versus "normal" population samples.
Until my utopian state of testing every podium placer is implemented, bring it dopers! You suck and I'll beat you racing clean.
Reality Show "Celebrities" & Those Who Have Time to Train:
These are two separate divisions if you ask me. Guys like the season one winner of "The Biggest Loser" getting an Ironman Hawaii slot doesn't bother me. If he can inspire people to get off their ass, stop making excuses and workout then I am all for it. As far at "those who have time to train", they also have time to over train. There is nothing like beating someone with all the advantages of wealth and fame. To you, I also say, bring it!
Bottom line, race all comers. I'll get as fit as I can and if you "beat" me in time bully for you. But you'll do it knowing that you were a pro and I wasn't, or you used drugs and I didn't, or you were given a place to stay in San Diego and free training from former pro athletes and I figured it out on my own or paid a coach.
Who really won now?