Last year, the inaugural Bardowicker Strand Triathlon helped (briefly) restore my faith in the sport. The second edition of this fantastic race wasn’t quite as low-key, with a few more competitors, but it has retained its relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere and smiling participants.
And it’s such a delight to be involved in races like this, because they remind me of everything that’s good about triathlon. Most weekends, I find myself at races with pumped up, hyper-aggressive, very serious competitors who elbow and kick you in the swim, yell at you to get out of the way on the bike and generally make the entire race a stressed-out, unpleasant affair. Not to mention that their impressive feats and surprising times may be the result of chemical help.
So, it’s really nice to suit up at this race in Bardowick and just enjoy it. To compete for the fun of competing and to not have to worry about all the ‘roid rage’. Credit has to go to the organisers, who told me they want to keep this race as a family triathlon. There is even a stipulation that holders of a German Triathlon Union ‘startpass’ are not allowed to participate. That’s another really nice thing: the participants talk with each other and half a laugh together.
Normally, at other races, the athletes keep to their triathlon clubs and focus on the event. If there’s any talking, it’s all about the course. There’s a lot of sizing up of the opposition and giving some hard stares, but not much relaxed conversation, and no laughing. I’ve always thought this was a bit sad, because it really should be just a bunch of folks on a Sunday morning doing a race together. No, it’s seldom like that. These races make me think reputations are on the line, bragging rights need to be won and that there’s a very large amount of prize money on offer.
That’s not the case in Bardowick, and that’s such a pleasant relief. You even get a bag of carrots when you cross the finish line. Participants interact with each other. People actually smile while they’re running. And there’s absolutely no sense that anyone is cheating or gaining an unfair advantage.
Thank you to the organisers of the Bardowicker Strand Triathlon. I wish there were more races like this one.