Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a big lot of fluf about categories

Any categorization is arbitrary and I am not going to write a new chapter in the book of triathlon in this post. But it doesn’t cease to puzzle me where a lot of athletes place or are placed in when it comes to racing at home, abroad and at world champs. Someone once told me that there could be three categories of athletes: social/completive; competitive and professional athletes. That same person described herself as a completive athlete, however she finished in the top 5% of his age-group on race day. But I’ll take that categorization as the start point.

What are the features of each category?
One could say that the social/completive athlete is not a top spot getter on a race, mostly middle-to-back of the pack men and women that don’t have the drive/time/talent/aspirations to be on the top.
But that is sooo wrong… many people underestimate their talents and some over estimates them

The competitive athletes have the drive/time/aspirations to be on the top, and probably will be middle-to-top of the pack on race day. In addition, a certain element of passion (in the form of a harmless mania) for the sport. WRONG AGAIN!  there are many of us that spend a lot of time and money (harmless mania) but are not front of the packers.

The pro athlete shares the same characteristics than the competitive athlete, but a lot more of training/support and access to resources allows them to develop more fitness/skills/exposure to racing and therefore improving their overall preparedness come race day.

The conclusion?
Keep it simple, there’s pro athletes and recreational/age groupers. The pro’s make a living or intend to make a living out of it. The rest of us does it for fun/fitness/lifestyle (insert what you want)

Blurry vision from doing hill reps.
That was only the starters, where I wanted to go is to that grey area where people is undecided for either or.

In most big races there are age group athletes that kick some of the pro’s butt and end up scooping into the top 10 or 20 of the field. In NZ the division between pro and age grouper is constantly shifted depending on the event, the event organizer and the general politics of triathlon.

There are guys that race age group but have a stint of professional or semi-professional racing in Europe or the States, and there are guys that race pro that have been ducking in the miles winter after winter to get to a peak year and try to make the most of it.

The other reality is that we live in a super small country and don’t have sellouts in every race, so it makes sense that there is only one category in some races.

But I guess that when it comes to National Champs there should be a fair distinction between pro and age groupers and if you’ve raced as an elite in any race during the year, that’s it, race as an elite on the championship… what doesn’t kill you…

As I keep writing I realize that all this whinging comes as a way to enquiry in myself about what I can do in terms of preparation to a race, what can I expect to be faced against on the start line and what can I do about it. Every athlete at the start line of the sprint champs will bring a heavy pack of experiences on their back, they will be good, bad or mediocre, and they will be from racing for fun, for medals or for money. There is only one way for me to beat them, and that is by going faster than them during the race. I am privileged enough to have access to a coach and a plan. And I’ll make the most of it.


  1. Stay focused and keep hammering. You'll get out of it exactly what you put into it.

  2. It sounds like adults in teh world are tyring to create hte same world of entitlement that kids today have been given. A world of it not being important if you try your best to succeed because you are always a winner. Lets create a 100 categories so we all win something, maybe we can enter 3-4 categories based on the criteria so we can win twice at the same event! OK, pro vs age grouper I agree, but for the rest of us, if we want to win I guess we better make some scarifices to get better and be noticed so we can get the $$$ to train full time and get to the top! Sorry about the rant, but it is supposed to be about the enjoyment we get out of the event!

  3. yeah john.. that's dead right. I was writing down some half cooked thoughts that then developed into a post. but at the end of the day I do it because I like it, and I try to go as fast as I can. the rest is details and don't really count to my wellbeing or enjoyment at all. that doesn't take the right to voice things that just don't look right. CHeers! Valen