In terms of endurance racing, I’ve been around awhile (ok, fine, in terms of age too – thanks for noticing). So I feel very much authorized to make a few, um, observations about the types of people who show up to races. And just so no one gets their undies in a bunch, we all fall into at least one of these categories, if not more. In other words, I’m at least poking fun on an equal-opportunity basis.
So gird your loins, because here goes…
- Poser-Man: This is the guy (usually 35-45) who hangs around the pre-race expo for hours on end. He’ll bring his $10k (and nearly illegal) bike into the conference center solely to lean on it in a corner looking bad-ass. The look is usually compounded by compression socks and roughly 3-4 different pieces of apparel sporting various race logos. He generally stands gazing about the room (as if looking for someone) when, in reality, he’s merely giving you the opportunity to notice him. Poser-Man is often guilty of wearing race gear to a nice restaurant the night before his race.
- The Race Morning Motor Mouth: An RMMM can be male or female—this person assumes that everyone prepping their gear at 4:30 in the morning wants an overly loud play-by-play of their last three months of training, including a highly-detailed analysis of how they would have qualified for Kona last year if only their left calf muscle hadn’t cramped so badly. While they are generally harmless, you can’t help but hope that a Motor Mouth accidentally gets locked in an overflowing porta-potty.
- The Alpha Woman: She has 10 kids, three jobs, a Ph.D. and competes in triathlon. She also looks great in Lululemon, sports some bad-ass equipment (her Garmin could launch a missile) and regularly stays in touch with roughly 3,000 of her closest Facebook friends by posting updates roughly every 10 minutes. (The aforementioned updates usually garner comments such as “OMG—you’re sooooo awesome!”) The back of her car is plastered with enough race stickers that it barely passes annual inspection.
- The Sandbagger: This is the person (male or female, but usually female) who claims that they “literally” have done no training, have a sore knee, or “totally suck on the hills.” They then proceed to rip the course a new one. People generally want to kick a sandbagger in the shins.
- The Chief of Staff: Any age grouper who retains a tri coach, strength coach, physical therapist, massage therapist, nutritionist, sports psychologist, run mechanics coach (separate from the track coach), swim stroke coach (separate from the Masters swim coach), VO2 Max tester, gait analyzer, body comp tester, chiropractor, yogi, mind-body guru and an orthopedic surgeon. If you are a Chief of Staffer and your spouse/partner asks you to track tri-related expenses, run and hide, my friend. Run. And. Hide.
- The Ironman Man: He has an Ironman tattoo and wears at least 2-3 pieces of Ironman insignia at all times. Wears an Ironman Timex watch and only chooses the Gatorade bottles with “proud supporter of the Ironman Triathlon” printed on the side. Like Alpha Woman, his car is covered with “140.6” and “70.3” stickers. When his children were young, he ran with them in the bright yellow, totally tricked out Ironman BoB stroller. If you have even an iota of comedic sensibility, you want to run up to Ironman Man and say, “Wow! Have you done an Ironman??” This joke is enhanced tenfold when pulled off at an actual Ironman race, surrounded by 3,500 other actual Ironman athletes.
- The Non-Athlete Athlete: Less common than the other profiles, the Non-Athlete Athlete can take various forms. I have witnessed the following (in no particular order): A man smoking a cigarette while setting up his transition area on race morning; a woman applying mascara in a small mirror in T1 (after the swim but prior to the bike); a man stopping at a road-side hot dog stand during the bike leg of a triathlon (to eat a hot dog); a marathoner running in a Chewbacca costume. You get the picture. I love Non-Athlete Athletes—they buck tradition and march to the beat of their own drummers. It makes me happy to see people just getting out there and trying in all forms. Except cigarette man—that bastard should pay all of our health care premiums.
And there you have it, folks—some race-ial profiling. But let’s not end the fun! If you have a profile (even if it doesn’t have a name), post it on The Tri-ing Life at www.thetri-inglife.com or at The Tri-ing Life’s Facebook page. If I get enough, I may publish Race-ial Profiling, Part Two in the future. And wouldn’t that just be a hoot.
In the meantime, get out on the race course and be the you-est you you can be—Ironman tat on your forehead and all.