Saturday, September 05, 2009

"It's a strange sport this. In no other sport is taking your clothes off part of the official race."

Writing for, Kathleen Noonan pens a great article on triathlon and triathletes. I don't usually reproduce long passages of other people's writing, but I love this:
"Of course, we worship sportspeople far too much in this country . . . yet

"it's hard to look past these beautiful striding statues.

"In the creamy September daylight, their honest sweat makes them more beautiful. They look clean and healthy, as if a thousand training sessions have purged them of doubt and excuses and uncertainty.

"Their backs are tan maps of muscles, their stomachs hard workbenches. Catwalk models look soft and useless in comparison. In a flabby world filled with worry about obesity, computer addiction and disease, you gaze on them and think surely this is what the human body was made for – hard, graceful work. (Emphasis mine.)

"Emma Moffat, the Olympic bronze medallist, now in first place in the women's category, who turns 25 on Tuesday, knows only one way to win: with hard work. The day we talk, Moffat, who is nursing a torn plantar fascia (the fibrous sheath in the sole of the foot), has already swum 6km at dawn and is heading out on a 3½ hour bike ride. Apart from the hard training, she says controlling your nerves is essential.

"The moment of doubt for many crystallises at the swim start.

"'Standing on the beach or jetty," says former detective Rod, "everyone else looks fitter and stronger."

"You look down at the dark, cold water and all your demons stare back.

"'It's like wild horses racing in your chest. This may sound crazy but it's like the panic when my marriage went belly-up."

"Now he knows he's got to catch them, harness them and let them take him.

"Usually the race is not perfect. The swim pushes through big dumpy waves, there's a flat tyre on the ride and the run grinds up hot hills. Being a triathlete means there are three times as many ways to learn about despair, disappointment, humility and defeat – all the things we try to banish from our modern easy lives.

"Yet these mad bastards go searching for them, embracing them.

"Go figure."

Those mad bastards, indeed! She gets it.

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