Member Submission

Going to an in-person race

By: Nadia Lafrenière

When I joined the UVRC in January, I knew running would not become my best sport. I had been a casual runner for many years but had never been very dedicated to it. However, I knew what I wanted out of the club: to meet active people in the Upper Valley and improve the running leg for my first Olympic triathlon, to come later in 2020. I had my eye on the Sunapee triathlon scheduled for September 19.

With the club meetings canceled, I tried having a regular running pal (my best option, until he moved to another country), Tim’s remote racer app (a virtual community is better than no community), and running by myself (despite struggling with my lack of motivation). The perspective of eventually racing against other athletes, even strangers, was by far the best motivation I had to train for all three sports.

Like everyone, I doubted it would happen, or that I would do it if it did. I made my decision when the organizers released the safety guidelines about a month before the event. Instead of having a massive departure where participants fight each other in the water, the race would be a time trial; there would be plenty of space in the transition area so people could stay 6 feet apart; instead of being two laps around a small loop, the running course would be one big loop, so fast runners don’t need to pass slower ones; and, of course, masks would be mandatory when not competing. Drafting, or riding behind another participant, was already prohibited. After taking part in the race, I can admit things worked well, since I did not spend more than a couple seconds within 6 feet of anyone.

There are a few things the pandemic did not change, like the boost of energy you get being around others who are gearing up, warming up and actively racing. Friends, family, and local residents still showed up to cheer on the athletes. Combined with the lack of events in our lives nowadays, the excitement of attending a race was very high.

I’ve heard some triathletes saying a socially distant triathlon simply works best. I doubt many of us enjoy fighting in the water to take the lead in the swimming event. Nor do we get pleasure from using the least amount of space possible in the transition zone. Hopefully, some changes will be here to stay.

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