Thursday, July 23, 2009

Triathlon Marshal Sees Sportsmanship and Legal Riding - Film at 10

Last weekend I was a marshal at a major regional triathlon. This race is highly competitive attracting some of age groups fastest people. What I'm not used to seeing is legal riding and sportsmanship.

I'm happy to report that the event director made some improvements in his race process. The race isn't a "huge brand" but he is headed that way. Now if he can only limit his field a little more or add more time between waves. He listened to the feedback of marshals, spectators and racers. I feel light headed.

We had a huge field and a lot of penalties. I wrote 43 penalties which is double what I would normally write for a field of this size. I think that everyone headed to Ironman Wisconsin or Kona from this region is really fit and determined. Nobody gave an inch and it caused some to get a penalty or two. 4 to 12 minutes depending on if it is one or two fouls.

I saw the usual: riding on the left for more than 15 seconds without passing, drafting (.5 lengths behind another rider to 2.5 lengths), forcing another rider over the center line, forcing a right side pass, outside assistance (pacing on the run and one guy who's family set up a personal aid station... on the bike), and the popular drafting off of official race vehicles. When I returned to transition I told the head marshal that I thought I had DQ'd about 15 guys on the road for repeated offenses. It turned out we only DQ'd four. I wrote two penalties for those four and two other marshals wrote two each as well. Those are the "cheaters" we all detest.

Happy to report that the coach who had me speak to the athletes they coach... only one penalty out of a large number of athletes. This coach had the most penalties at this race a year ago. The athletes known more for their drafting than anything else.

What I saw from several folks was encouraging. About 25 people said, "Thanks for being out there. You guys (marshals) made a difference." If I can help folks have a better race experience; that is why I marshal and coach. I saw a guy on the pointy end of the field stop to help a back of the pack friend fix a flat. "This is just a training day with a crowd." I saw another guy help another racer get up out of the sand after he tripped. A competitor make space for a guy on the bike rack. Chaos and anarchy I tell you!! No snarls.

Just racing.


  1. Bob, can you share which race?

  2. Spirit of Racine - Not all people at the race were "evil cheaters". There was a lot of sportsmanship out there. While I saw a lot of ugly "racing" and behavior I noticed a polar opposite in positive good behavior. Let's hope it is a trend.