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Should You Go to a Race if You Don’t Want to Compete?

Updated: Mar 21

Let's talk: Competition, Completion and Race Sign Ups.

We came across this article while creating a video for one of our forthcoming duathlon events, written by Kathryn Taylor, a female triathlon turned gravel cyclist, founder of Girls Gone Gravel, and Feisty Media Author. We think she wrote an excellent piece, capturing the various motivators for participating in endurance sports.

Kathryn wrote, "Based on many of the comments seen in the Girls Gone Gravel Facebook group, there’s often a misnomer around gravel races and competition.

It’s true, a percentage of people do show up to race with a podium slot as a goal slot, but that percentage is often much smaller than is perceived by others. Most folks are at events to experience a fun day with a community or to achieve a personal performance goal. Those goals range from finishing the event under the time cutoff to getting a personal best on the ride. And while the pointy end of the race often gets the most coverage, the majority of folks are there for the experience. If you go back to the original definition of ‘to compete’ it means to strive in common, strive after something in company with or together. Today that word can mean ‘to take part in a contest’ or to strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. It’s funny that we often go to that second definition of competition even though that’s the modern-day evolution of the world. A lot of us don't like the pressure associated with viewing competition as something to win or lose. Some folks do. I love celebrating these folks. It’s fun to see them at the top of their game and especially fun for me to see women putting a hand up and saying, I want to win today.

Female Triathletes Celebrate Ironman Finishes
Coeur Teammates - Kona IMWC 2022

But the majority of folks who show up on race day are there to strive after something with company. There’s an energy that is electric at the start line. Folks excited to take on a challenge, the nervous energy of not knowing how the day will unfold, the buzz of community, and the sense of accomplishment at the finish line.

One of the best things about events is reconnecting with old friends and exploring beautiful places on and off the bike.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and daisies. Often (esp at the longer events) we experience dark moments on the ride. Anxious reactions can be interpreted as rudeness. Once when I was at mile 8 of a very painful run on a half Ironman, a woman with good intentions started following me and 'cheering me on’ to run. Intellectually I knew she was trying to be helpful but emotionally I wanted to murder her at the moment. I believe I asked her to direct her enthusiasm to someone else. The thing about competition is you get to choose how you want to show up for the day. You get to choose if you want to show up and race for a podium spot. You get to choose if you want to train for a personal best. You get to choose if your goal is to make the time cut-offs and meet new people on the course.

Every choice is to compete. Every choice is valid. Every choice crosses the same finish line. At that finish line is a party full of folks who chose to strive together for the day."

We 1000% Agree with the Girls Gone Gravel founder and it's one of our principles in triathlon and duathlon event design and marketing to make sure "completers" and first timers feel seen, encouraged and welcomed to participate, said Race Director Camille Baptsite.

Original article "Why Should I Go to a Race if I Don’t Want to Compete?" written by Kathryn Taylor . Reprinted with the permission of Feisty Media.

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