One of my favorite running related events that I have ever done is the Turtle Trot Triathlon, my guess is you have never heard of it and that is ok.
It is an invitation only event, organized by the parents (Ben and Kirsten) of Amada, a soccer player that I coached, that consists of a 1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike and a 5k run.
So go back a couple of years to 2006, my wife and I were asked if we wanted to participate in the Turtle Trot since they knew we both ran. We found it interesting but we weren't too sure about actually doing it. I had always kind of wanted to do a tri but I wasn't too excited about training for one. I struggle with getting my runs in, how would I ever fit in swims and biking?
Well, they kept asking us that summer, they said it was a low key event that was fun, family and friends. I said it sounded interesting but that I would probably drown as I wasn't sure that I could swim a 1/2 mile. I also had the excuse that our soccer team would be playing districts on the day of the event. Ben said don't sweat the swim, the lake level is down and I could touch bottom the whole way if I needed to. They kept asking and we agreed but only if our team wasn't playing districts that morning. As luck or fate would have it the team lost our game in overtime on Friday night so we were eliminated and now we were committed.
The race is held on the 3rd Saturday of July which is normally pretty warm (at least to us). Sure enough as we got there that morning, it was already in the upper 70's heading to low 90's. I was thinking that the 5k was going to be a bit brutal and I wasn't looking forward to the swim as Minnesota lakes can be real cold even in July, oh well, we were both committed.
As we got the instructions for the event, Ben gave us a little bit of a surprise, he said that for this year's event they were going to change the order. He said, it's his race and he can do that. He also said that the previous year they had a runner collapse and they didn't want that to happen again. So the order was going to be the 5k run, 1/2 mile swim and then the 10 mile bike. I was thrilled. I could run hard and then cool off and then cruise on my mountain bike for 10.
The race went great, I don't remember my time but I loved the three events together. I thought that if I had a different bike I could have gone faster, if I trained for swimming that would have gone faster, heck if I trained for a 5k that could have been faster then I thought should I do another tri? Ok that thought left quickly but I hoped we could do it the next year.
Sure enough last year, 2007, we got their email and signed up again. When we got there, Ben said the order would be the same as the previous year as no seemed to mind the switch and it just made sense. It worked out well again and I think I went faster but they did adjust the swim as they said that in 2006 it was short. So the swim took longer but my bike and run were faster.
We have a cookout after and get to catch up with each other. It's what running events should be, a nice gathering with friends and family. Even though the only folks we know are Ben, Kirsten and Amada and some of their family everyone makes us feel welcome. Too often I know that I show up, run the race and head out, basically ignoring my fellow runners. For me, it's my nature, I don't tend to initiate conversations but if someone talks to me I will talk to them, especially about running. This event is what it is all about, no one cares that much about time, you battle yourself if you choose, if you want to compete, you can, if you don't want to compete then participate. In the end it is participation that matters, time is relative but not overly important.
So we got our invite for this year's event and it said "Due to popular demand, we will be sticking with the run, swim, bike format" - I can't wait to do it again...........