Have you heard?! Triathlon is no longer just an individual sport! At least, at the professional level. While individual racing still makes up the majority of triathlon events, a new team event has also come to town: the mixed relay!
This event is under review by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, and everyone in the tri world is hoping it gets in! The racing is fast and furious and super fun for both athletes and spectators. How do I know this? Because I am getting a taste of racing the mixed relay – and my friends/family are enjoying the chance to watch all the fun in person – through Major League Triathlon (for more on the MLT series and the mixed relay race format, check out my informational page on the League).
It’s been so interesting to observe teamwork come into play in an individual sport. My experience on the Dartmouth Varsity Crew during undergrad gave me insight into just how amazing it is to be on a team where everyone bans together. Rowing takes teamwork to a new level: for the boat to move, 9 minds must become one and 8 bodies must move in absolute sync. When they do, the feeling you get flying through the water with grace and power, is goosebump-worthy. While I adore triathlon and there is nothing like seeing your own hard work paying off with improving race results, there is another dynamic that comes into play when you’re racing than more for yourself. Teamwork in triathlon comes in a bit of a different form, but it’s awesome to race for something bigger than myself. It is certainly a different kind of accountability!
Last weekend, MLT hosted its first showdown of 2017 in Charlotte, NC. I was excited to toe the line racing for my hometown team – Cleveland Rock & Roll – with three other Midwesterners! Statistically, our team looked like we could be competitive for the win, but you never know what will happen on race day. Leading off for my team, my role was to set the tone by hanging on to the top ladies in the League as best I could. No pressure. :)
A misstep (or should I say, misstroke) around one of the many turn buoys in the swim opened a gap that I wasn’t able to close (queue internal cursing). But as my teammates reminded me from the sidewalk, “every second counts!,” and I did my best to minimize the damage. We knew that if I could execute this and AJ Baucco was able to hold our ground in the 2nd leg, then Lindsey Jerdonek (who raced third) and our anchor, Kevin McDowell, had a good chance of making up any time and opening a gap to ultimately cross the finish line first. That is exactly what we did! It was inspiring to see Lindsey take women down one by one, and Kevin crushed the run, laying down the fastest men’s run split of the day.
The folks at MLT did a great job covering the race, and you can see a full video here. I’m super excited for our next race this weekend in Atlantic City, hosted by The Claridge Hotel. We had stiff competition from the Sarasota Suns and Colorado Peaks, and with the change in order mandated by MLT, it could really be anyone’s… er, any TEAM’s game next week! Follow along and give a shout out to CLE – hopefully we can take home another W!