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Picking Triathlons to Race In

I pay my annual dues to USA Triathlon without a lot of thought. Sure, I think about the $39 I shell out, but it goes toward improving our sport and is just one of the fees involved in competing. In reality, there are many triathlons run that are not USAT sanctioned events. I have participated in one or two of those, but they were several years back. Until yesterday, I had not realized what my $39 annual membership really buys me.

For starters, let me apologize to the folks running the 5k in Buford, GA yesterday. I feel like a complete asshole for riding through the tail end of your event. Neither the course martials nor police stopped me from proceeding, so I assumed I was at the very end of the event and 500 ft ahead where I would turn right you would all turn left. There were roughly 5-7 people I rode past in this area. Of course, when I turned right, so did the course – and it entered an out-and-back section. So I was pretty much stuck. About 1000 feet down the road I was able to turn left (across the traffic of those folks coming back) and head on over to Peachtree Industrial, but by then I felt like a complete jerk. I’m sorry. I never wanted to be THAT GUY.

After I crossed PIB I headed up to Buford Dam Rd. This was the backside of the bike course for a triathlon for first timers and general rookies to triathlons. It wasn’t long before the leaders came by. They were drafting. Highly illegal in a sanctioned event – evidently no problem for this non-sanctioned one. I saw people riding without helmets… ON A COURSE OPEN TO TRAFFIC.  Who let these people out of transition?? I asked a guy with a number on his bike (so he was no sight-seer like me) “Where’s your helmet?”  He forgot it. I never once saw a race official on the bike course and I was out there for a long while. You usually at least see them with the leaders.

There were over 800 people participating in this event, on a course that simply could not handle that load on a Saturday morning. Drivers were fuming. I am surprise no one got hurt. There were a lot of people to cheer for, and I did. They didn’t know that they were in an unsafe event. Many of these people were clearly pushing themselves beyond the limits of anything they’ve ever tried. A 5K would’ve probably been challenging for some without the swim and bike in front of it. They didn’t know any better. They didn’t know to look for the USAT sanctioned branding.

So if you’re looking for an event to do, whether it is your first time or 100th time – I encourage you to consider the event sanctioning. I know this sounds like an ad, but it isn’t. With that sanctioning, you get a baseline set of rules and regulations. It is impossible to monitor the entire event, but things are definitely taken much more seriously. An unbuckled chin strap is a DQ coming out of transition – they wouldn’t let you even mount your bike without a helmet. That $10 one day pass or $39 annual membership is 100% worth it.

If you have any questions about this, please post a comment or email me (mkschubert uses a gmail account).

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