If you look at triathlon and multisport events from the outside you would consider it to be an individual sport. There are no team mates to pass the baton on, no one encouraging you to push a little harder and certainly no one to take a tackle for you.
I would argue however that triathlon and multisport events are far from an individual sport, in fact the more team orientated it is the more you get out of it. Whilst you may be out there on race day on your own I’m sure just about every person on the start line would have had assistance from someone prior to race day.
That assistance may have come from a partner, family member, friends, medical support staff, coach or training team mates but it would be a rare person that does it all on their own. And then what type of journey would that be if after a race you can’t share the joys of success or the lows of a setback with someone else?
As human beings we are wired to be with other humans. It’s in our DNA to feel part of something. Even those people that train on their own would no doubt love being part of a crowd on race day.
Over the past few months I have seen the benefits of teamwork up close. I have observed how a support crew can make a huge difference to an athletes physical and mental well being and consequently their performance.
In August I was part of the Smiddy Challenge ride to Townsville. Covering 1600km in 8 days we had a peleton of 50 riders but more importantly we had the most amazing support crew of about 10.
From washing our clothes, feeding us, cheering us at every stop and working themselves to exhaustion they did everything they could to make our journey easier. I was amazed at their constant positive attitude and how selfless they were towards us and attending to our every need.
In mid November I was part of the Tri Nation team that competed in the annual Endeavour 500 Summer challenge. Again we had the most amazing and selfless support crew that hydrated us, helped to feed us, transport us and tell us good we looked when we knew they were lying.
And just recently I was played the support crew role for my good friend and fellow Tri Nation online coach Craig Percival when he competed at the Ultraman World Champs in Hawaii. After having been the athlete in two earlier adventures this experience made me appreciate even more the role of the support team and how important they are in an athletes life. I was more exhausted being the support crew than when I was the athlete.
More importantly each adventure was special as I was part of a team. I was able to share the experience with others and form lifelong friendships that go further than sport. When you’re involved in events that test you to your limit physically and mentally it breaks down normal barriers that exist in everyday life.
When those barriers are down you really get to know a person and what they stand for. If I was on my own and not part of team it would not have been anywhere near as special.
I also realised how important a simple thank you to the support crew was and how it made them feel. So the next time you’re at the finish line of a race don’t forget to thank your support crew or cherish the teammates around you.