The last race I was in was set up locally to be "newbie friendly" and was a "mini sprint" at a venue that is a pretty awesome place for a triathlon. Our local triathlon club was there in full-force because it was a great tune-up race for some up-coming races and it was on a weeknight, so we didn't have other races. The race was well attended by serious athletes and I could also tell that there were lots of newbies there. I was happy that they were out there. It was a crappy weather day- seriously- read my race report!!
I finished about mid-pack for once ONLY because there were so many newbies. I wanted to shout, "THANK YOU for making me look like I know what I am doing for once." I finished, got my medal, checked the results (HOLY crap, I actually placed!), got a burger, and then realized that every one was sitting around talking and totally ignoring the fact that there were still people out there on the course.
Since this was a small race, there was not much crowd support. It had rained buckets only hours before so it's not like mom and dad wanted to stand out in the puddles cheering for us. The venue had a band playing and the finish line was outside the terrace. So really, once you crossed the finish line, you left the general area of the race and migrated into another area to socialize.
This is what it looks like empty
The finish line was outside of this and you couldn't see anything going on from in there!
So as soon as I realized that many of the final finishers would be finishing alone, I decided to take off my finisher medal and my AG place medal (because NO ONE still on the course likes to see your medal clinking around your neck- it's like bragging right in their face!!!!) and I went back out on the course to cheer, encourage, and help anyone and needed someone to run, jog, or walk with them. I ran 3 or 4 four people in to the finish at the end. I did this while secretly crying. I hid my tears by wiping them away as sweat- thankfully it was hot enough to assume that.
When I was on the run portion, I could see many people struggling. Let's be honest here. It was a late June evening, it had stormed, it was hot, and we live in Ohio. This all means that after the storm it became VERY MUGGY. For anyone that doesn't know that that means, I'm sorry. The humidity was at 100%. It was so hard to run.
I was PISSED. Why? Because so few others seemed to even care that these people were still out on the course. All of those athletes in there were eating and chatting with their friends. They were teammates. They forgot about those that COULD eventually be their teammates.
This is something I really struggle with. I'm on a team. But no one really knows me. It's hard being the newbie. It's hard being the one just starting out. It's hard being the back-of-the-packer. It's hard being the slow, fat, not knowledgable one. We need to change the way TEAMS work. I want a team that BUILDS up the newbies. A team that molds and shapes the spirit of the triathlon sport and facilitates the need for more people to join us. How else will our sport grow? Let's make the newbies the important ones- teach them, help them, encourage them.
Maybe I'm hopeful only because in some races I am "them" or maybe I'm hopeful because someday I don't want to be almost a newbie, but I don't want them to have to feel the way I have felt. Why have a team if we can't help each other?