I was asked yesterday what was the most entertaining or disturbing thing I’ve seen at a race. That question really spurred a few vivid memories of races gone by – and the things, both amusing and some revolting, sprang to mind.
Events that we compete in tend to be a cornucopia of sights, smells and tastes. And trust me, over the years I have seen some doozies!
Take, for example, those triathletes that run out of transition without their shoes – only to turn around and run back in to get them. I’ve seen that happen at least three times. What about the triathletes that put on their helmet backwards in transition. I’ve actually done that before, even though I didn’t leave transition with the helmet on backwards. I’ve seen people singing to themselves on the run, people skipping, and people bent so far over at the waist that it was amazing they were still (somewhat) vertical. I’ve witnessed athletes sounding like a motorboat due to flatulence with every step.
I’ll never forget the lady at a local race here in Jacksonville that tied a helium-filled balloon to her handlebars so she could find her bike in transition. Novel idea, I suppose. I can only imagine if she were to leave transition with the balloon still tied to her bike, trailing her like a balloon follows a four-year old at the circus. The same lady was equipped with a 5-gallon bucket of water so she could wash her feet of after the run up the beach following the swim leg.
I’ve seen crazy costumes at races. I’ve run with a pink-clad Spiderman, been whipped by spectators dressed in S&M outfits, and accosted by a guy in a hot dog costume. I’ve run by people literally tailgating – cooking out and drinking beers. During a few marathons, I’ve seen people partaking in mimosas while they watched runners pass.
I have seen pictures, as you may have as well, of an athlete who was so focused on finishing his Ironman race that he defecated on himself and ran I don’t know how many miles with his…um…poop running down his legs. While getting a Kona spot is a big deal, I frankly can’t imagine what a poopy run would be like. For the runner or for the runners/spectators near him!
We’ve all likely witnessed our share of vomiting athletes. Maybe we’ve done it ourselves. While I haven’t thrown up at a race, one time I did blow a snot rocket right into some other guys face (on accident, of course).
Of course, we’ve seen our share of disturbing images at races. Images that haunt us or bring back bad memories. Crash victims, full of road rash and blood. Cracked helmets. Broken bones. I once rode with a guy who did an endo and landed square on his face. He broke his jaw and lost several teeth. It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a rider at a criterium suffer a compound fracture of his femur.
The fact of the matter, though, is that every race has some element of hilarity and some element of disgustingness or disturbingness. It’s a matter of perspective. Do you notice the amusing things and tend to not “see” the other stuff, or do you focus on the grime, slime, and vomit? As a people watcher, I’m drawn to all of it. I observe, make mental notes, and either smile or say a prayer. The comforting thing for me is that as a back-of-the-pack athlete, I’m often on a course so long that I get to see lots of things!
What about you? What are some of the things that you’ve seen at races? What are your lasting memories?