TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent
For this edition of TCSD Conversation I spoke to our members who raced World Championship events in 2018. My hope is that more of our members will race the qualifying events. This is a great way to see the world.
These are the members who answered my questions with their World Championship results.
Maggie Riley-Hagan: ITU Sprint Distance Draft Legal Triathlon World Championships – Gold Coast, Australia. 5th place Women’s 65-69 Age Group.
Chris Costales: ITU Sprint Distance Draft Legal Triathlon World Championships – Gold Coast. 73rd Men’s 40-44.
Judi Carbary: ITU Sprint Distance Draft Legal Duathlon World Championships – Fyn, Denmark. 4th place Women’s 65-69.
Scott Endsley: ITU Aquabike World Championships – Fyn. 6th place Men’s 60-64.
Jeff Krebs: Ironman World Championship – Kona, Hawaii. 90th place Men’s 55-59.
Diane Ridgway: Ironman World Championship – Kona. 6th place Women’s 70-74.
Rick Kozlowski: ITU Sprint Distance Draft Legal Triathlon World Championships – Gold Coast. 3rd place Men’s 65-69.
Henri Morales: Ironman 70.3 World Championship – Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. 42nd place Men’s 45-49.
Craig Woodhouse: Ironman World Championships – Kona. 156th place Men’s 50-54.
Bob Hubbard: ITU Sprint Distance Draft Legal Duathlon World Championships – Fyn. 5th place Men’s 75-79.
Andy Thacher: ITU Aquathlon World Championships – Fyn. 20th place Men’s 55-59.
Rob Watson: ITU Aquabike World Championship – Fyn. 3rd place Men’s 65-69.
Aaro Jarvinen: Ironman World Championship – Kona. 161st place Men’s 30-34.
Marisa Rastetter: Ironman World Championship – Kona. 32nd place Women’s 40-44.
Dan Redfern: ITU Aquathlon World Championships – Fyn. 22nd place Men’s 60-64.
Craig Zelent: ITU Standard Distance Triathlon World Championships – Gold Coast. 19th place Men’s 55-59.
What sacrifices did you have to make to race the World Championships? Was it worth it?
Maggie: I had to work very hard at my job to earn enough money to afford to go and worked a lot of extra evenings and weekends. I also had to show up at work with wet hair, so as to get in lots of swimming. I think that it was hard for some of my friends and family to understand why I might want to undertake such an endeavor at the age of 65.
Yes, it was a wonderful experience, both the race and visiting Australia. The race venue was beautiful, and the coast of Australia was magnificent!!
Chris: Luckily I didn’t have to sacrifice much. Training for a sprint distance race is much less time consuming than longer distance competitions. Travel time and cost was the only possible deterrent. It was completely worth it.
Judi: Although I had a right knee bone spur causing pain when I trained and raced, I did as much recovery as I could to do my best race. It’s always exciting racing against the best competition in the world, traveling to new places, and seeing long-time friends.
Scott: As is always the case in participating in all multi-sport events, much energy, time, money, and personal sacrifices were made. Double that, because my wife Wendy also went along. It is always worth it. What a better way to create a life?
Jeff: The main sacrifices made while training all year for Kona were centered around spending time with friends and family. I had to turn down offers for many social events during the year due to my long training days and my need to recover properly by getting plenty of rest between training sessions. I am fortunate to have loving and supportive family and friends who understood my time constraints and never complained. They were always encouraging to me, realizing that they were on the journey along with me. It was worth making these sacrifices and in many cases, they strengthened my bond with my supporters. I certainly garnered respect for my tenacity and my dedication to triathlon.
Diane: Sacrifices were few. Missed some games my grandsons played in but often rode my bike to view them.
Rick: It’s a sacrifice for everyone who goes to Worlds. First of all, you have to train to qualify. And, training hurts. Secondly, you have to travel to someplace to qualify. That takes a sizable amount of money, time and scheduling. Finally, you have to travel overseas. So just double the amount you spent to just qualify.
I make it worth it by spending additional weeks at the location. I drove and camped out along the east coast of Australia for 2 weeks with my son.
Henri: I qualified a full year before the race in my first Ironman 70.3 ever, Superfrog, and had always wanted to visit South Africa, so it really drew me into triathlon very quickly and shaped my year leading up to it. Once I qualified, I decided that I didn’t want to just attend 70.3 Worlds, but make a real run at the podium. I went all-in on a year long training block from there.
I was so focused on training and racing leading up to it that I overlooked booking accommodation and found all the hotels full. Fortunately I was able to get an Air BNB and ended up staying with an amazing local family, the Biddulphs, just up the street from IM Village. Dean Biddulph was actually the Nelson Mandela Bay City Councilman in charge of the ward where the 70.3 world champs was held. What started out stressful not having a place to stay turned into a blessing and really allowed me to focus on the race stress free and have an amazing cultural experience with local hosts.
Craig W.: As I tell everyone, my triangle goes as follows…. 1. God. 2. Family. 3. Everything else. So, sacrifice? my time, which would be sleeping. I have an active family, which I help with, I don’t miss out on any of those plans. My journey to the Worlds were different because I qualified under legacy. Do I want to go faster? Why heck ya!! The best part about this Ironman journey… my wife, Erika being there for all of my races… giving me my Kona finisher’s medal has to be the best part!!
Bob: I had qualified/registered for the 2018 aquabike and duathlon by winning gold in the aquabike long distance at the 2017 ITU Worlds. At the 2018 Worlds I had to “sacrifice” my entry to “defend” my aquabike gold due to a leg injury during the duathlon.
Andy: The sacrifices I had to make to race in the World Championships were primarily financial. Between the cost of the race entry fees, Team USA uniform & parade kit, airfare, hotels, train fare, and meals I spent around $2,500.
Rob: I’m retired and train year around with good friends, so I didn’t have to make any sacrifice other than having to do the occasional long training bike ride on my own rather than ride with my group.
Aaro: A lot of 2 – 3 hour training days on top of daily work. It was tough from time to time, but I think it was worth it.
Marisa: The most difficult sacrifice I made was spending less time with my husband, and my mom, who has advanced dementia. I was training 20+ hours some weeks, and that meant that even when I was with my loved ones, I was probably tired and hangry!
The time sacrifice was worth it because it was an important goal for me. I had been trying to qualify for over 10 years. My husband was very supportive of my training schedule; he had a smile and dinner on the table every night. And I’m back to spending lots of time with Bill and my mom.
Dan: I had to spend over $6,000 to attend, and yes it was worth it.
Craig Z.: My sacrifice is a willingness to train in the dark and cold of the winter months. 3 times per week before the sun rises I routinely run 2.5 miles to Alga Norte pool, swim 3000 yards with the masters group and then run 5 miles to get home in my wet swim gear. This makes me really fit, but it is no picnic during the winter months.
What were the highlights of your race?
Maggie: I surprised myself that I placed 5th. I really enjoyed sharing the experience with my son, who did accompany me, as well as with my friends, Craig Zelent and Laurie Kearney, also from San Diego. I enjoyed getting to know others from the USA and other parts of the world who share my joy of triathlons.
Chris: The highlight of the race was my swim. I started out in the wrong position at the start line, but I was able to make my way to 19th out of the water. Even the first half of the bike was exciting and fun being in my first draft legal race. The second half of the bike (losing my draft group) and tired legs on the run made for a tough finish.
Judi: I was in 3rd place until half way on the bike when I was passed, pushed it to get ahead, then was passed again with 1 mile to go. I pushed my last run to finish 26 seconds from making the podium and bronze medal. Disappointing since I have received the bronze medal the last 2 years at Worlds, but also an incentive to up my training plan for next year.
Scott: Bad highlights: slow swim in jellyfish infested waters. Good highlights: passed all the swimmers except 5 on the bike, and no jellyfish on the bike.
Jeff: The highlight of my race in Kona has to be my time spent in the Natural Energy Lab (NELHA). My goal was to get there before the sunset so that I could fully enjoy this epic and storied segment of the race. In 2016 when I raced Kona for the first time, I had some nutritional issues which delayed my arrival in the NELHA until the sun had already gone down. It was a fairly easy and relatively cool run down there which, as strange as it might seem, was disappointing to me. This year did not disappoint. I really did love this part of my race.
Diane: Highlights were seeing my family on the run and I enjoyed the rain storm.
Rick: The race was only a blip on the highlights of the trip. But, I did meet a couple of nice Aussies and I’m looking forward to seeing them in Switzerland next year.
Henri: At Worlds each age group (AG) has its own wave start. Ours was last of the day. My swim was smooth 27 minutes (15th in AG). I made a few errors in T1 and lost a minute or so there. The transition procedure is a bit different at worlds. The bike was a hilly and technical seaside course especially with the roads slick from rain. From around 10 miles in it was a dogfight when I found myself in a tight international pack of cyclists for the remainder of the bike, sometimes bunched up and running the risk of a drafting call, and the motorcycles were everywhere watching for it. I even got a verbal warning to “be careful”! I finished with a competitive 2.5 hour bike split and had myself in a good position (23rd) to start the run.
I felt really strong the first 1/2 of the run going out. At 10k I had moved up to 19th. I thought for sure I would be able to close this out and make my move. Unfortunately at mile 7 or 8 the jetlag I had been suffering from all week hit me like a ton of bricks and I started tightening up and cramping. I had to back off the aggressive pace and just tried to hold it together. I finished in an official time of 4:40:00. After I crossed the finish line the skies unloaded with torrential rains that flooded out the venue and everyone took cover.
It was 120 percent worth going. Worlds is very deep and with the AG wave starts your competitors are right in your face the entire race. I missed the podium by 12 minutes and 45 seconds. That’s how close I got to it. You can project all you want that if you can swim, bike and run such a time that you will podium at Worlds. However, until you fly 10,000 miles to another hemisphere and country to race against the best in the world, look those guys in the eye, and experience firsthand out on the course exactly what it takes to get it done, it is just a pipe dream.
I realize now that a World’s podium is a 2-year project for me. I need to clean up some things in that race, eliminate sloppiness in transitions, get a bit stronger and faster on the bike, nail my nutrition and sleep next time so I have the kind of run I am capable of on race day.
Craig W.: Has to be either the “selfie” at the turn in Hawi or seeing all my friends all over the course! Another amazing gift, running out of the energy lab, as the sun was setting to my right, looking up towards the hills with amazing colors… I stopped to give Him praise… and just like that… lights out… it was super dark on the Queen K. Head to the finish line!!
Bob: Although I raced with Team Canada (pressure from grand kids in Ottawa), I am still active as a member of USAT, and train mostly with TCSD/Team USA triathletes. That makes for competitive/good fun at the Worlds.
Andy: The highlights of my race were that I had a good swim, but during the last part of the swim there were hundreds of small jellyfish and I got stung around 6 times, primarily in the face. During the first part of the run, I had a slight allergic reaction to the jellyfish stings and was having trouble breathing, which slowed me down. About a mile into the run, I started to feel better and started moving up through the field and finished strong. Overall, I was a little disappointed with my race, but it was a memorable experience and am glad I went.
Rob: The highlight of the race was the bike course going through the island of Fyn, Denmark, with its beautiful countryside of farmland and woods and charming small towns lined with cheering crowds.
Aaro: It is difficult to pinpoint a specific highlight. The swim start in Kona is quite magical. The energy lab loop was tough and interesting. Of course, crossing the finish line in Kona is pretty special.
Marisa: The highlight of my race was the run, but it was also the most difficult part. My 2nd metatarsal snapped during mile 1 – maybe a prior unknown stress fracture? Who knows? I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. After a quick pity party, I told myself I had plenty of time and could walk, or drag my foot and still finish. I found a volunteer with Advil, I took 4, and I took 2 Tylenol, and told myself to keep running. I hoped to be able to run 10 miles, and then I could walk. At mile 16, I was still running and feeling pretty good. At mile 22, I was still running and feeling great. I started to run faster and felt even better. When I hit the top of Palani (about a mile to go), I sprinted all the way down the hill because I was so happy to be finishing the race! The true highlight was high five’ing spectators in the chute, crossing the finish line and hugging my husband who was there to give me the finisher’s lei. I ran a sub-4 hour marathon. The next day the Kona ER confirmed I had a complete fracture that was slightly displaced in the 2nd metatarsal (ball of my foot). I had to wear a boot for 9 weeks, and will have to wait another month to start running again, but it was totally worth it!
Dan: Having the fastest swim split in my age group.
Craig Z.: Racing against the best in the world is always a highlight. But I also thoroughly enjoy traveling the world. The Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise are some of our favorite places on earth. This was my 2nd time racing in the Gold Coast. The 1st time was back in 2009. This time my wife, Laurie Kearney, happened to race on the same day. While I was racing in the Gold Coast, Laurie was racing the Sydney Marathon. She placed 3rd in her age group and was able to enjoy a post-race lunch with long time TCSD friend Dee Dee McCann-Burton who lives in Sydney. After Laurie and I reunited we went touring around Brisbane.
This question is only for those who raced an ITU event. What did it mean to you to race for your country?
Maggie: It has always been a goal of mine to represent the USA in an athletic contest. Although I am now 65 years old, it was still the fulfillment of a dream.
Chris: It was unbelievable to be on Team USA. The night before the race we took our team photo, participated in the Parade of Nations, and then competing in the Team USA kit was a dream come true. My hope is that in 2019 the swim won’t be cancelled at nationals and I can once again compete for the US.
Judi: It’s always very exciting and an honor for me to race with Team USA. This was my 8th World Championship competition and it is still as exciting as my first. It’s not just an individual racing effort, but a “team” of athletes to cheer on and support each other.
Scott: The personal rewards for racing for Team USA always, always, always, outweigh all costs.
Rick: The best thing that came out of racing last year (2017) for USAT was that I was able to lobby the organization to have me included on the 2018 team since I was the top American to podium in my age group. This opened the door for this year in that if you placed first, second or third at Gold Coast, you were on the team for 2019.
This is a great reward for all the hard work and financial expenses these winners experienced. I call it the “KOZ” rule. Now, we’re competing for something of value.
Bob: At the ITU Worlds, the Parade of Nations encourages friendly interaction among all the triathletes. Canadian and American triathletes are equally boisterous and leave me with fond memories of Denmark, having competed with and against both.
Andy: It is always an honor and a privilege to race as part of Team USA against some of the best age group athletes in the world. There is a feeling of camaraderie and support between you and your Team USA teammates and there is extra motivation to race your best because you know you’re representing your country.
Rob: Racing for Team USA was a wonderful experience, offering everything even the most spoiled triathlete could think of asking for–our own bike mechanics, massage therapists, chiropractor, guided pre-race course reviews, and every imaginable kind of support from the Team USA staff. I made enduring friendships with teammates from across the USA and also with triathletes from other countries. The Parade of Nations was a celebration and coming together of international sportsmanship and goodwill.
Dan: It was an honor to represent Team USA.
Craig: It means everything to me. This was my 25th time racing for Team USA. It never gets old. I am honored every time I get to put on a Team USA race kit.
Craig Zelent is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach. Craig can be reached at 760-214-0055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.