Now let me preface this with these are completely my own thoughts and feelings – so read with a grain of salt or pass on reading altogether. If you are reading this then I actually hit post! Which, truth be told, doesn’t always happen with posts like this. Many times they just sit, gathering dust, in the draft phase, never to see the light of day. Poor little posts.
While I haven’t had a problem calling myself a triathlete, I am always quick to caveat with sprint distance triathlons, I don’t do long course. I only do the baby version. I also add how slow I am. I know I am not a serious triathlete – I don’t own a wetsuit, or bike shoes for that matter. I don’t have a coach. My bike is a hybrid (not a road or racing bike), and I don’t even know what the aero position is (okay, so that last one is a slight exaggeration). But I love triathlons. I love race morning. I love the feeling of finishing the swim and getting out on the bike course (well when my bike & I are on speaking terms). And even better I love T2 and getting out on the run course. I never questioned that I was a triathlete. Once I completed my first triathlon, I was a triathlete. Not a serious triathlete, but a triathlete all the same. I know because Sally Edwards told me I was. In the water, preparing for my very first swim, Sally Edwards asked us what kind of triathlete we would be when we crossed the finish line. And my group were going to be wonderful triathletes! I crossed that finish line and I was a triathlete. I never questioned it – until now.
But what makes a person an athlete? A triathlete? A runner? Especially someone like myself – I mean I have to look at each race to see if there is a time limit that I can finish in before I even sign up. And right now I have to make sure they allow walkers. I have not been under any illusion that I will finish anywhere near the front of the pack. But does that mean I am not an athlete? Or maybe aspiring athlete would be a better term.
All these thoughts basically boil down to one question. What makes a person deserving of the title “athlete”? Professionals? Fast and speedy participants? People who take their sport seriously? Or do you just need to finish a race to be called a runner, a marathoner, a triathlete? Or is it somewhere in between?
When did you feel you had earned the title of athlete?