The triathlon season in Germany has started early this year. The season last year ended with a very enjoyable race in Büchen. And because of renovations happening to the Waldschwimbad later this year, the Büchen race was moved to the start of the season.
I decided to do the sprint distance this time, as the Olympic distance last year became a bit of a drag, especially on the bike; the condition of the road left something to be desired. And while I was bumping along during the bike leg this time, I was glad I’d made that decision.
The weather was great, the organisation very good, and only some of the athletes possibly dodgy. The winner of the sprint (500m/20km/4.4km) did 58:00, and he was heading for the finish line with at least half the field still on the bike. Still, the race was relaxed enough, with the results only hinting that there might be some competitors with performance drugs in the system (maybe) and even motors in the frames of their bikes (unlikely).
So, a solid start, which had me in 8th place, from 40 starters. Not bad, but I have to confess, I can feel my passion for triathlon waning. And I’m wondering why. I’m kind of over the fact that some of the athletes are cheating. There’s no testing, there’s nothing I can do about it. If guys want to cheat, I can’t stop them, and I’m tired of getting mad at them.
When I started racing, back in 2002, what I really liked about the sport was the community. That first season, I made friends at races I’ve kept to this day. Back then, there was a stronger sense of solidarity among the race starters: we were all in it together, it was bit stupid, no one really understood why we were racing, and triathlon itself was still something of a fringe sport. Now, the athletes are very serious, enough to put crud in their system that they bought online, and enough to fork out a lot of money for bikes, gear and training holidays.
When I go to a race, I see the athletes keeping to their respective clubs. There is a very strong atmosphere of competition. It’s no longer a silly lark on a Sunday morning. This is the general result of the sport developing and gaining more participants, who make a lot of sacrifices in order to do well in races. They’re not at the race to make friends. They are there to beat their time from last year and win their age group and maybe win the race.
A shame really. It’s a bit lonely at triathlons, these days.