Learned a ton in my first Ironman

Bracht hangs tough, Wellington dominates in AZ new

Written by: Dan Empfield
Date: Sun Nov 21 2010

Timo Bracht weathered the specter of two speedsters in a heated footrace and held on to win the 2010 Ford Ironman Arizona. Chrissie Wellington put on a dominant performance to win the women’s title in 8:36:13 and finished 8th overall.

The men

Arizona’s version of the 140.6 distance is often a nail biter, contracting rather than expanding as the men’s race draws to a close. In 2008, the top four men crammed into two minutes by the time they reached the tape.

The 2010 edition was almost as close, with Timo Bracht holding off Denmark’s former short course star Rasmus Henning, 8:07:16 to 8:10:58. British IronRookie Tom Lowe, came third in 8:11:44. Defending Ironman Arizona champ Jordan Rapp crossed next in 8:16:45.

The day started with Kevin Everett and Brandon Marsh exiting the swim along with John Dahlz, James Bonney, Henning and Reed. Everett, Henning and Reed gained separation quickly and put two minutes on the chasers. Meanwhile, Bracht, Jordan Rapp and Chris Lieto each commenced their attempts to close down gaps of 4 and 5 minutes out of the water.

Just after halfway into the bike, Rapp—racing his first Ironman after a horrific bike crash in training almost cost him his life—took over the lead. He towed Lieto, Henning and Bracht, almost never relinquishing the front, until mile-90, when Bracht made a move.

Within a mile the German’s pace dislodged Lieto. Meanwhile, Lowe, a duathlon specialist, steadily kept pace with the leaders, albeit while hovering 3 to 4 minutes in arrears.

Rapp and Bracht and Henning entered the final straight into T2 together, with Lieto :45 back. But Henning had to make a stop to serve a 4-minute penalty for drafting—he might have won the race had he not tried to calibrate to calibrate the draft zone a little too closely.

Bracht immediately ran to the lead, putting several seconds a mile in Rapp. The hot pace on the bike appeared to take its toll on Lieto, who lost ground on the leaders from the marathon’s first mile.

While Bracht, Rapp and Henning were each running 6:15 to 6:20 pace, Lowe was racing over the pavement as a pace close to 6-flat. By 12 miles into the marathon the Brit—who happens to be Chrissie Wellington’s boyfriend—had closed to within 3 minutes of Bracht. Henning hovered at just over 3 minutes down. By mile-14 Lowe was only 2:11 down on the leader.

At mile-20 Bracht still held the lead, yet, as is the habit at this race, the leaders were coming together. Lowe was a scant 80 seconds back, with Henning less than 2 minutes out of the lead. Rapp was in fourth, but, still only a very few minutes down.

Lowe’s torrid pace in the early miles required repayment. Henning found good legs during the marathon’s second half and retook the second spot from Lowe.

But Bracht—who has a habit of strong marathon finishes himself—stretched out his lead, while running a 2:48:59. Lowe and Henning ran the fastest two run splits, 2:48:12 and 2:48:35 respectively.

“I wasn’t sure if 6 weeks after Kona I would be again or still in decent shape. It was an experiment, but sometimes in life you have to try out something new and take a risk. My start (in Arizona) was hotly discussed in Germany as I am really viewed as a very calculated and forward planning athlete. In the end, it has worked out quite well,” said Bracht to slowtwitch. “Rapp rode the bike really well and in the end I had to give everything to get the win.”

Rapp’s 4:22:38 bike was only 7 seconds slower than the course record he rode last year, and his 2:58:02 run just 2:17 than his run when he won the race in 8:13:35 and set the overall course record Bracht erased today. It’s good to see Rappstar back.

The women

“This was my Kona!” shouted Chrissie Wellington. This, after demolishing the field at Ironman Arizona in a World Best time (for an Ironman branded full distance event) of 8:36:13. Wellington already holds another World Best at this distance, set at Roth earlier this year in 8:19:13.

Wellington, who finished 7th place overall at Roth during her record run, crossed the line in 8th place here. Her 2:52:55 marathon would have put her only 4:44 behind the fastest men’s run of the day. In fact, Wellington’s swim was only 32sec slower than that of men’s winner Timo Bracht, and her run was only 3:56 behind Bracht’s run (and this, while executing the Blazeman Roll at the finish). It’s a good thing the German bikes well!

The day started without Wellington displaying her dominance. Her two countrywomen, Rachel Joyce and Leanda Cave, gave the Brit a go for the first three hours. The trio were in a virtual dead heat 50 miles into the bike ride.

But Wellington, perhaps her 2010 Kona demon exorcised, chose that moment to stomp on the pedals, and Cave and Joyce were left to eat Sonora Desert dust.

By T2, Wellington had 12:20 on Cave, with Heather Wurtele and Linsey Corbin giving chase 17 and 18 minutes behind.

Corbin proved the best of the runners—Wellington excepted—coming home in a very credible 9:05:33. Corbin’s time was an improvement on her 9:13:46 she posted last year as runner up, and had she done this year’s time last year she’d have enjoyed holding Arizona’s course record for the past year. Cave followed in 9:13:50.

Ford Ironman Arizona
Tempe, AZ / November 21, 2010

Top 10 men

1. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:07:16
2. Rasmus Henning (DEN) 8:10:58
3. Tom Lowe (GBR) 8:11:44
4. Jordan Rapp (USA) 8:16:45
5. Jozsef Major (HUN) 8:26:15
6. Matt Reed (USA) 8:33:08
7. Max Longree (GER) 8:33:28
8. Ian Mikelson (USA) 8:41:18
9. Joe McDaniel (USA) 8:43:23
10. Anthony Toth (CAN) 8:46:57

Top 10 women

1. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 8:3613
2. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:05:33
3. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:13:50
4. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:15:01
5. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 9:19:10
6. Erika Csomor (HUN) 9:22:38
7. Mackenzie Madison (USA) 9:24:11
8. Heleen bij de Vaate (NED) 9:29:15
9. Uli Bromme (USA) 9:31:22
10. Lauren Harrison (USA) 9:33:53

Superstar Pro Field to Race Ford Ironman Arizona

Wellington Highlights Stacked Ford Ironman

Arizona Field

A Superstar Professional Field to Race at Ford Ironman Arizona

Published Monday, November 15, 2010

The seventh edition of Ford Ironman Arizona includes one of the strongest professional fields a domestic Ironman event has seen in years. The men’s race is highlighted by defending champion, Jordan Rapp, Denmark’s Rasmus Henning, Germany’s Maik Twelsiek and Americans Chris Lieto and Matt Reed. An equally stacked women’s field includes Great Britain’s Chrissie Wellington (pictured winning Ironman 70.3 Timberman) and Rachel Joyce, Canadian Heather Wurtele, Hungarian Erika Csomor and American Linsey Corbin.

Rapp, of the U.S., is back to defend his Ford Ironman Arizona title and the course record he set last year. He was involved in a severe bike accident in March and this is one of his first races since the incident. Henning, who spent eight years on the Olympic-distance circuit, finished first at Ironman China and fifth at the Ford Ironman World Championship in 2009, his first year of full-distance racing. After finishing 23rd in Kona last month, Henning is hoping to end the year with a top placement in Tempe. Twelsiek celebrated his first Ironman victory at Ford Ironman Wisconsin in 2007 and won at Ford Ironman Lake Placid in 2009. Lieto has finished in the top 10 at the Ford Ironman World Championship three times, highlighted by a second-place finish in 2009. This year, Lieto took the titles at K-Swiss Ironman 70.3 Kansas, Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake and Ironman 70.3 Vineman.   Reed, a skilled short-course triathlete and Olympian, hopes to find success in his first attempt at the full distance.

Wellington, a three-time Ironman World Champion, surprised many when she pulled out of this year’s Ford Ironman World Championship on race morning due to illness. Ford Ironman Arizona marks her first time racing in a domestic qualifier event. Corbin’s resume includes a fifth-place finish at the 2008 Ford Ironman World Championship and the win at this year’s Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene, her first full-distance title. In 2008, during her second year as a pro, Wurtele won Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene with a time of 9:38:58. Csomor, the winner of the April 2008 edition of this race, is also a title holder at Ironman 70.3 Austria and Ironman 70.3 California. Last year, Joyce placed third at Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa, second at Ironman Lanzarote Canarias and, most notably, sixth at Ford Ironman World Championship. She returned to Kona this year and again claimed sixth place.

Approximately 2,500 athletes representing 50 states and 30 countries are expected to race in the seventh-annual event. Ford Ironman Arizona offers a total professional prize purse of $50,000 and 65 qualifying slots to the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championship, to be held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 8, 2011.

Pro Men
Jordan Rapp
Jozsef Major
Chris Lieto
Maik Twelsiek
Max Longree
Jan Raphael
Rasmus Henning
Timo Bracht
Matty Reed
Sergio ENRIQUE Quezeda Ruiz
Tim Snow
Juan Carlos Ramirez

David Kahn
Mike Caiazzo
Sickl Heinrich
Eric Daniel Bean
Kirk Nelson
Dion Harrison
Patrick Bless
Bruno Clerbout
Marco Schreck
Mike J Schifferle
Leon Griffin
Frank Vytrisal
Daniel Bretscher
Jesse Vondracek
Devon Palmer
Jozef Vrabel
Ian Mikelson
Anthony C Toth
Trevor Wurtele
Matjaz Kovac
Dantley Young
Matthew Russell
Torsten L Abel
Eneko Elosegui
John Dahlz
Lewis Elliot
Jimmy Archer
Stijn Demeulemeester
James Bonney
Kevin Everett
Karl Bordine
Adam O’Meara
Jerzy Kasemier
Tom Lowe
Marek Nemcik
Brandon Marsh
Paul Amey
Jonathan Caron
Eric Sullivan
Jordan Bryden
Raymond Botelho
Blake Becker
Joe McDaniel

Pro Women:
Chrissie Wellington
Heleen bij de Vaate
Erika Csomor
Meredith Brooke Keeran Kessler
Linsey Nora Corbin
Heather Wurtele
Nina Kraft
Leanda R Cave
Terra Joy Castro
Yasuko Miyazaki
Beatrix Blattmann
Mackenzie Renee Madison
Uli Bromme
Rachel Sarah Joyce
Megan June Gaskill
Lauren Harrison
Annett Kamenz
Rachel Kiers
Jocelyn Wong
Miranda Hardwick Alldritt
Lyne Bessette
Stacey Richardson
Chrissy Parks
Molly Hummell

Originally from: http://ironman.com/events/ironman/arizona/a-superstar-professional-field-to-race-at-ford-ironman-arizona#ixzz15ViZM5cF

Heat Acclimation

By Mackenzie Madison

It’s that time of year when the summer heat can really push you over the edge when it comes to training and just as important – racing. You don’t need a thermometer or to check the weather to know that it’s hot and humid. It’d be quicker to step outside and notice the immediate beads of sweat start to roll down your face along with your sunglasses fogging up. Some of you dread the heat, some of you don’t mind.

But here’s why you should mind. Recently, in a group of elite cyclists completing just a 30-minute time trial in moderate heat of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, their overall power output was lower by 6.5% than when performing a time trial in a thermoneutral environment of 73F. (Tatterson) So yes, even in elite cyclists and moderate heat exposure, your performance decreases.

So what can you do to minimize these performance decrements? Get used to it – literally – and get heat acclimated. Besides improving your ability to perform at a high level in the heat, heat acclimation also starves off serious health risks when you are exposed to the heat. Not being heat acclimated exposes you to several risks including muscle cramps, feeling faint, inability to coordinate muscular movements, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hyperthermia, shortness of breath and overall general fatigue.

click here to read more: Original Article


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Since the ITU circuit was in my neck of the woods (sort of..), I made the trek down to our nation’s capital to watch the third leg of the ITU World Championship Series (WCS). And it was well worth the trip because I got to watch two amazing races.

The first thing you notice is the atmosphere that surrounds the event. Everything about it breathes elite racing. The start line is not composed of a few elite athletes with a lot of part-time “pros”. It is entirely composed of elite, professional athletes. Athletes with Olympic aspirations, competing for very good (for our sport…) prize-money. Because of the level of the athletes, everyone watching either at the race site or at home through the Internet were treated to two very competitive races, with constant changes in the dynamics of the race, which made them both interesting and very fun to watch.

When I got back home at the end of the day, I checked how Ironman Coeur d’Alene was going. And the contrast with the ITU WCS race was evident. With extremely weak fields, both men’s and women’s race were far from exciting, with second place for the men being 10 minutes behind the winner and third place almost 20 minutes down (!). The women’s race was a little more “exciting”, but just for the battle for second place. All this for the first Ironman race of the year in US soil.

The writing is on the wall: professional Ironman racing is dying. This is not new, it’s been a slow death, brought on by stagnating prize-money purses and the increased number of races, causing a watering down of the competition. But this slow death is somewhat puzzling given the growth of the sport in the last years. With its logic of maximizing the profit out of the events that runs, the WTC is showing an incredibly narrow focus that is hurting the sport as a whole. This effect might not be noticeable right now, but it will be in the future.

Going back to the ITU World Championship Series, it seems to be a risky bet that is paying off. Having the best athletes perform in great stages around the World is a great idea, and one that is advancing triathlon more and more into being a worldwide sport. The race in DC is a perfect example. Just like having the Tour de France ending in the Champs Elysees, the streets of downtown DC were the perfect backdrop to bring triathlon into the mainstream. Big kudos to the ITU and the local organizing committee.


Hoping to do well for the adopted ‘hometown’–some French Press

Triathlon : Nicolas Alliot, le porte-drapeau montois

Nicolas Alliot (Saint-Jean-de-Monts). : Stéphane May

Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Les meilleures chances locales de podium reposeront, dimanche, sur l’Américain Kévin Everett, et le Français Nicolas Alliot.

Après Les Sables et Jard, Saint-Jean-de-Monts organise son épreuve internationale, ce week-end. Au programme, samedi, le championnat de France par équipes D2. Les étrangers les plus connus présents ? Kristian Mac Cartney (Cesson-Sévigné) et le Belge Axel Zeebroek (Besançon). 

Axel Zeebroek s’est fait remarquer lors des derniers Jeux, en posant le vélo seul en tête, avec le Luxembourgeois Dirk Bockel. Tous deux pourraient doubler, dimanche, et se mesurer au favori, le Français Stéphane Poulat. Les Montois, eux, évolueront à domicile, avec l’envie de bien faire. A l’image du Luçonnais Nicolas Alliot et de l’Américain Kévin Everett, pour qui ce sera sa première course en France.

Formé à Luçon, le jeune lycéen de Mendès-France, à La Roche, a rejoint le 2e club vendéen (derrière Les Sables), il y a trois saisons. Une première année pour voir et progresser, une deuxième pour aider l’équipe élite à rejoindre la D1 (chose faite), et une troisième pour faire sa place.

En début de saison, il a tenté de se qualifier pour les championnats d’Europe juniors. Mais, blessé, la barre était trop haute. Depuis, il a pris la 2e place de son équipe, lors du Grand Prix, à Beauvais (66e), et une 3e place, le week-end dernier, à Jard, derrière son coéquipier, Torok (2e). Après un Hongrois, Nicolas Alliot fera donc équipe, dimanche, avec un Américain de 34 ans.


L’équipe de Saint-Jean-de-Monts : Nicolas Alliot, Julien Leroy, Mathieu Agnus, Alfred Torok (Hongrie), Adam Fitzakerley (Australie), Ruben Bravo, Andrès Del Castillo-Carnevalli, Anton Ruanova-Fernandez (Espagne), Ethan Brown et Kévin Everett (Etats-Unis).


Le programme. Samedi : 14 h, Grand Prix D2 femmes ; 15 h 30, Grand Prix D2 hommes ; 17 h, avenirs (7-14 ans). Dimanche : 10 h, découverte et relais ; 10 h 30, triathlon féminin ; 14 h 30, international courte distance.

Olympic Odyssey: A New Standard

Javier Gomez dominating ITUOlympic Odyssey: A New Standard   (April 15, 2008 )
Former World Number one Chris Hill takes us to Beijing through the athletes’ eyes

Like the all the greatest athlete and coach combinations, Javier Gomez, along with Jose Rioseco, are redefining the sport of triathlon with efficiency, talent, and pure speed.

Spaniard Javier Gomez doesn’t spin his wheels like other less efficient triathletes. All his horsepower goes directly onto the pavement, pedals and water. This not only propels him forward in a race, but it also consigning the old standards of men’s triathlon to the past.

Like the leaders of the sport before him; Mark Allen, Brad Beven, and Simon Lessing, Gomez’s career is starting to acquire the momentum of a runaway success.

His racing resumé of nine BG World Cup wins and 15 consecutive podiums is quickly exceeding dominance, eagerly edging its way toward legendary (the men’s World Cup win record for an active athlete stands at 11, held by 2000 Olympic champion, Canadian Simon Whitfield).

But it is another champion athlete that Gomez, 25, is beginning to resemble most.

Both were born in Basel, Switzerland but the similarities don’t end there. Triathlete Gomez and tennis player Roger Federer seem close sporting cousins. Both share an ability to single-handedly reset their sport’s perimeters of possibility, all with what looks like a modicum of effort.

As Federer rips a stunning cross-court winner with more angle than a marine’s sideburns, Gomez crushes the hearts of his opposition with unparalleled swim and run poise.

Gomez’s swim is freakish. His best 1500-meter time is under 16 minutes, which puts him in a class alone with former swimmer Andy Potts of the United States. But the difference with Potts is that Gomez’s swim personal best was recorded this year when training for triathlon not in his competitive swimming days.

“I had my best 1500-meter time ever this year,” Gomez said after the New Plymouth BG Triathlon World Cup. “I’ve always kept on swimming. Even nowadays I do three good months of swimming in November, December and January. And I always have a race at the end. This year I did my PB in the 1500meter, which is 15:45.”

“Under 16 minutes is enough for triathlon, I think, but I am not a very good swimmer in open water. I like the swims that are totally flat, like a swimming pool. Last week I had a very bad swim, I was 24th out of the water. Running into the water is hard.”

Hard for Gomez one week, easy the next—he’s that type of athlete.

In Mooloolaba, after the beach start, Gomez tripped over the first carpet of water—it wasn’t even a wave—when the other athletes beside him, all Kiwis and Aussies with surf skills to burn, waded another 20 meters or so.

Another athlete in this situation might have dreaded the same predicament reoccurring in the beach start at New Plymouth the following weekend, but not Gomez.

He led on the beach run to the water, replacing his bellyflop of the previous week, with a few giant steps. The fact he subsequently added a couple of graceful duck dives proved he is a quick school and reaffirmed his Federer type genius.

Gomez’s race brilliance does not end there. His run is now second to none and because of his swim, it goes against triathlon’s natural order.

Triathlon’s natural order states that a pure swimmer CANNOT be a pure runner. Australia’s Craig Walton and Athens Olympic gold medalist Kate Allen exemplify this.

Gomez, however, does not run like a swimmer or swim like a runner—he swims like a fish and runs like a gazelle. And his physical appearance on the run should not deceive the spectator.

The ruby hue that flushes Gomez’s cheeks is only a red herring, fooling the viewer that he is hurting. It only acts to distract from the relative ease of his strides, the smoothness of his locomotion—again the triathlon equivalent of Federer.

Before the 2008 BG Triathlon World Cup season commenced, Gomez spent some time training in South Africa. One of his sessions included a running race.

“I did a 10-kilometer race on the road in South Africa,” Gomez said of his 2008 preparation. “I ran 29:47. I got third and Tim Don was fourth, 25 seconds behind. Two African guys ran really fast and won. I tried to run with them and managed only four kilometers. We ran the first three kilometers in 8:25. Then the last five kilometers was hilly so it was slower.”

Great Britain’s Tim Don is known as probably the number one triathlon track runner with a 3:46:60 PB for 1500 meters. But sometimes Don’s form does not carry over to running ten kilometers off the bike.

For Gomez, it always does.

On Mooloolaba’s hilly 10-kilometer run course, Gomez knocked out 30:29 and on the undulations in New Plymouth, 29:37. If you couple this, as Gomez did, with second out of the water the results are scary for the opposition.

They are also scary if you are the type of athlete that likes to slink into an Olympic year with solid races building to a crescendo. Gomez, obviously, is not this type of athlete. To him, great form now is a harbinger to great form in the future.

“Things are going well,” Gomez said about his two wins in two races and the frame of mind they put him in. “It is a positive pressure and a motivation. It is a sign things are going well. I won the first two World Cups so it is just perfect.”

“I did not expect to be in such good form. It was so much better than what I thought before I came to New Plymouth. Things are going well, I am training well and I must keep on working for the Olympics.”

His coach Jose Rioseco was also happy with his athlete’s early season form. As Gomez loomed large down the finish straight in New Plymouth, Rioseco stopped pacing and started punching the air. The victory obviously meant a lot and it was a team effort.

“He was very happy because I did a very good race,” Gomez said of Rioseco’s quiet fist pumping, “better than last weekend and that’s the important thing. My coach is a great support and he has coached me since I was 11 so he is more than a coach, he is more like a friend.”

After New Plymouth post-race press interviews, countless selfless t-shirt signings and drug testing, it was time for coach and athlete to make the 4-kilometer journey back to the Devon Hotel.

Wheeling his bike when the rest had ridden, Javier Gomez joined his coach for the tramp home as darkness descended. When victories convert to Olympic confidence, they crunched the numbers and plotted the next along the deserted Sunday night streets.

Their partnership becoming as successful as coach Tony Roche and Roger Federer when the pair worked together in his prime.
Former World Number one Chris Hill brings his unique elite athlete perspective in weekly Olympic columns to ITU’s website, triathlon.org. He competed on the ITU World Cup circuit, winning three titles and ten medals in total. He was crowned the overall World Cup series champion in 2001. That same year he was silver medalist at the ITU World Championships in Edmonton, Canada. Watch for Chris Hill’s column, “Olympic Odyssey” every week on triathlon.org.

Responsible Sport: Owning Up to the Problem

By Jeff Henderson

Trash Pile
Sweet, sweet trash …
Courtesy Jeff Henderson

“County-road-sign makers seldom tell you twice. If you miss that sign in the weeds that’s your problem, not theirs.”
        – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This is a story about butter. Somewhere in the telling, power and desire and revenge creep in, but fundamentally it is a story about butter.

Man evolved in the cradle of civilization, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, amid warm breezes and hospitable soils. As man wandered and spread, he ventured to less hospitable climes that required him to build shelters. In his home and away from the land, man desired ways to preserve food for tomorrow, so he salted and pickled and preserved and eventually cooled, first with ice and later the refrigerator. In warm weather, desiring to protect his animal’s products from the heat, he placed butter inside the refrigerator and it stayed cold and firm for him.

When kept outside the refrigerator during moderate temperatures, man discovered that butter stays soft and spreadable, a much desired quality. So as to avoid removing the butter in mild weather and placing it back into the refrigerator during warm weather, he invented a particular spot for his butter, a compartment with a warm surface where he could control the temperature and soften the butter to his liking.

And so the butter sits in its compartment, soft to the touch but not melting at 50 degrees, inside a refrigerator cooled to 40 degrees, inside a home heated to 70 degrees, in a climate where the outside air might be 50 degrees. Three layers of precisely regulated thermal control engineered to provide man his desired butter at the desired temperature, all of the time.

How we have fallen. Our need for control and convenience and possessions has driven us to madness, no longer able to respect the earth that long has sustained us. This earth is recoiling, straining and shifting beneath our weight, yet we insist on maintaining our foolhardy ways.

Our swath of destruction cuts wide, no longer limited to securing food, clothing, shelter. Our pastimes-the things we pursue for amusement-now scar the land, pollute the skies, befoul the water. We pander to our basest instincts-the thrill of the hunt, the rush of competition-while ignoring the intelligence we have cultivated over a millennium.

On October 13, 2007, an army of athletes assembled upon the island of Hawaii for the Ironman world championship.  From all corners of the globe they came, 1,787 strong, to prove their ability to conquer the water and ground beneath them. Aside from 68 residents of the state of Hawaii, all of them flew jet airliners to attend; the combined distance traveled amounted to 18,312,992 miles (portlandtri.com/miles.html). Eighteen million miles-for one day of sport.

The jet airplanes belched 3,634 tons of carbon dioxide and other destructive greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the equivalent generated by 525 average American homes producing heat and light for one year.

When did we stop caring? When did it become acceptable to shirk responsibility, to shift it to another person, another country, another generation?

– – –

This fall I volunteered at the Westchester Triathlon in New York. After the race, I stood beneath an unusually warm September sun breaking down bike racks in an endless parking lot. I tore them down and placed them in the back of a truck; by mid-afternoon, all that remained of the transition area was trash, the waste generated by 1,000 athletes over a six-hour span.

Gel packets. Scraps of bagel. Plastic water bottles by the hundreds, a consequence of our evolution to single-use containers. All of it destined for the landfill, as Westchester does not contract a recycler. The amount of trash, and the inability of its producers to shuttle it to the trash can, was astounding.

As I stood resting, preparing to resume cleanup, two Team-in-Training women joined me in the otherwise empty lot. They each carried a plastic bag. Wordlessly they began circulating, emptying bottles and cans, placing them into the bags. As I broke down a nearby aid station, I watched the parking lot transform from a field of litter to a manageable bulk of waste. They disappeared after an hour and a half, taking their collected recycling with them. They probably saved Westchester half its trash bill.

– – –

Sport has long been an innovator.  Things we have learned about health, longevity and nutrition have often been driven by athletics. Through it we have discovered new materials, perfected technologies, improved systems and processes. And yet sport now falls behind, catering more to conspicuous consumption than long-held principles of conservation, efficiency and adaptability.

With our food, we demand organic. Our homes are triple-sealed against drafts, our thermostats and lighting computer-controlled. We buy Priuses and separate glass from cardboard. Yet our races stagnate. At the Chicago Marathon, 1.8 million cups were used to dispense water; few events practice recycling or composting. We travel thousands of miles to “destination races” while the local YMCA can’t draw 100 to its Spring Fling. A steel bike could last a lifetime; instead we buy carbon and replace it the very next year.

Sport is stuck in the age of excess. While the rest of the world educates itself about carbon offsets, global warming and alternative energy, we content ourselves with bigger cars (to haul our gear) and more exotic races.  It is no longer acceptable for those who care to clean up for the rest of us.
Jeff Henderson forsook the world of competitive swimming for triathlon in 1997. Since then he has busied himself competing, officiating, writing, and race directing.  He directs the Musselman Triathlon, the Fly by Night Duathlon, and the City of Portland Triathlon. To stay sane, he cares for Ophelia, Dixie, and Wyan, three charismatic yet remunerative backyard chickens..