A pinch of online buzz, a dash of “word of mouth” and stir in a worthy cause and voilà, you have a homemade triathlon!
What am I talking about? I’m talking about one of those triathlons that started as a training day or a dare or challenge on some random weekend between a couple of friends. Maybe it was to see who was more athletically gifted or just to sweat out last night’s hangover. Whatever the reason, homemade start-up triathlons are everywhere, you just need to keep your eyes open for them.
Sure, Kona started out as a challenge between a couple of fools on an island, but you don’t need a tropical paradise to lump some people together and do a race. Find an swimmable body of water (preferably without a high bacteria count!), a nice open country road and a cooler for Gatorade at the aid station, and you’re off!
That’s a gross over simplification if you are looking to pull off a real sanctioned triathlon. But, you don’t need the horsepower of WTC, Ironman, HITS or REV3 to get a sanctioned event going.
Locally in Kansas City, we had the SWAT Triathlon that was a neighborhood closed event, open up to anyone and everyone and was a huge success raising funds for a fallen soldier. It was not a USAT sanctioned event and they didn’t even have bike racks, but if you followed the forum posts, no one cared and everyone had a great time. It was more of a gathering for fun and no chip times.
Now we have the Cowboy-Up triathlon in honor of a fallen soldier and benefiting the Wounded Warrior program. They have made the move to be a more legitimate race with USAT sanctioning, attracting sponsors and organizing online registration.
Both of these may not compete with the more established events with deeper pocket books to put on the Kansas City Triathlon (WTC) and the IM Kansas 70.3 (WTC), but there are here none-the-less.
Here’s a few benefits to look at when contemplating racing a smaller “home grown” event in this day and age of multisport commercialism.
1. Lower entry fees. Most of the back yard tri’s work on all volunteer basis and are benefiting a charity. They are not out for profit, but want to cover their costs while contributing funds to their charity.
2. Less red tape. I emailed the race director for each event when I wrote articles about the event and received a reply the very same day. When I have emailed RD’s with questions about a 70.3 or other event, it took days if I even received a response.
3. Less congestion. These days, 70.3 races can exceed 2000 racers and the 5150 races can exceed 1000 racers. If you are trying to get around, find a place to stay or wanting to relax around the event, good luck at larger events. It’s chaos at packet pickup, race morning, during the race and trying to get home.
4. Feeling a part of something bigger than you. Sure, you can get in the “club” for an M-dot or race in the 5150 point series, but for what? It’s nice for the ego, but the money goes to WTC and they do with it what they want. The smaller races are more often than not to support a charity or non-profit organization. By racing and paying registration, you are helping the cause and something bigger than yourself.
5. Less intimidation. More than likely, the pro’s and elite athletes aren’t going to show up to mop the course with the competition. Usually there are no big prize purses and it’s all for fun. So, use everyday triathletes don’t have to have as much pressure worrying about elite guys lapping us on the bike or run.
6. It’s a great starter event. Racing your first triathlon and don’t want to get overwhelmed? Here you go. Less pro’s, less racers, informal atmosphere, it’s all just right for you! They probably won’t enforce cutoff times and hit you with a suspect drafting penalty if you didn’t understand the rules. Miss a turn? Oh well… just get back on course and get it done.
7. Beer. Some organized races have gotten so stuffy about alcohol. If you want a cold one, you have to bring it yourself. These home grown races know what people really want; booze. Forget about bananas and PR Bars, pop open a cold one and celebrate right.
Hopefully when you’re filling out your race season calendar you have some flexibility if a small race pops up. For the most part they are worth the extra effort to pack up for another race. Even if you don’t race the event, consider their charity and support them if you can!
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans. Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com. Contact Ryan at: email@example.com or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.