My wife swam, cycled and ran in her first triathlon over the weekend. While we men were few, there were plenty of us about, snapping pictures of our wives, daughters or girlfriends. In fact, my two daughters were with me to cheer on my wife. The Tri, being a sprint, had everything… Athletes of all shapes and sizes, costly tri kits to bathing suits and cotton tee shirts, high-priced running shoes to sneakers, high-end carbon tri and road bikes (even an S-Works Shiv with Zipp 80’s) to mountain bikes, knobby tires and all.
Afterwards my wife was speaking with another participant who mentioned how nice it was that there were no men because that meant no pressure.
On one hand, I do get it so I’m going to let the whole sexism side of that go, even if the woman was a school teacher (and don’t try to hit me with that “women can’t be sexist” baloney, I’ll allow you the right to be wrong). On the other hand, and much to my surprise, there really are men only triathlons too so I guess we can call that even. Well, at least till the NAGs take aim at the male only version as “sexist” and make it one of their “women should be allowed to participate too” causes of idiocy while ignoring the fact that women have their own, vastly more common, version – don’t forget the Boy Scouts…
Now, with that out of the way, here’s what I saw: I saw a safe place for women to dip their toes into triathlon. They had a staggered start for the swim – rather than send everyone off all at once, they changed it to a one person out the shoot every three seconds. This spread everyone out enough that the swim was generally well mannered (my wife later confirmed what I saw from shore, though she added that there were a few kicks and hits along the way – even with all of that space). In general, I really liked the way they did this… It made the swim a swim, not a death struggle for space. It wasn’t quite as exciting as watching 500-600 women hit the water all at once (and don’t dirty this up by mistaking that sentence for something it isn’t – that would be “people” if it weren’t a women-specific tri), but I really do believe it made the swim better. Two points for them on that.
The bike: There are a lot of women out there who need a good, basic bike maintenance course (or a more attentive husband). Honest to God, I heard more squeaky bikes leaving transition… My wife has me, and I do maintain her bike (and it was whisper quiet and in perfect working order for her race with a meticulously cleaned and lubed drivetrain), but ladies, cleaning a bike and a bike chain takes minutes every other week. My wife said the constant squeaking from so many bikes was so bad it was tough to ride with all of noise messing up the great scenery… She still averaged 18 mph (!) though.
The run: Nothing out of the ordinary here, just like any other 5k.
Overall the triathlon was really well put on. In fact, watching it had me Jonesing to get back into it, which got Mrs. Bgddy and I to talking about doing one together. I did my best to make the occasion an enjoyable one for my wife and we all had a good time. Truth be told though, I had to do a lot of work in my head to keep from being spiteful of the whole “women only” notion as all too often “men only” is frowned upon as a way to keep women down. While it’s okay for women to believe that they should have a place free of male induced pressure, for men to say they wish to have a place free of female induced pressure is sexist and horrendous. Or, “what’s good for me is unfair for thee”. “Let them eat cake”, she said.
However, once I let go of that (at least for the time being), I can see its usefulness. Women and men should both have their specific tri’s and the one my wife raced in over the weekend was quite well done. Once I let the politics go.
Finally, if you’re wondering, would I participate in a male only triathlon? Well I can’t rule it out but I certainly won’t go out of my way to do it. I’m okay with me so I can fit in anywhere.