Daily Archives: August 22, 2013

How to be a Triathlon Sherpa

Hello, friends!  How’s it going?  On Monday night, I arrived home from New Hampshire where I stayed for the extended weekend to watch my teammates kick butt and take names at the Ironman 70.3 Timberman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run).

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Let’s just say that squeezing 13 people into one house for three days was one for the books!

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View from the back porch.

Even though a sprint triathlon took place Saturday, I didn’t race mostly due to logistical constrains because my bike wasn’t back from Milwaukee.  However, just because I couldn’t swim, bike, and run didn’t mean I wanted to miss the weekend, so I make the trek to Gilford and assumed the role of triathlon Sherpa extraordinaire.

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Carbo-loading with waffles–in solidarity, of course.

What’s a “Sherpa” you may ask?  Prior to triathloning, I had never heard of the term used this way.  Hailing from the Himalayas, the Sherpa people are known as elite explores; in fact, when travelers visit the area, it’s common for them to hire the Sherpas to show the way.  Because of this, the Sherpa has become a slang word for guide.  Sure, it was a minor technicality that this was my first time visiting the Lake Winnipesaukee area.  And yeah, I have yet to complete a long-course event.  But I stepped up to the plate and did my best to make sure my teammates had the best experience (read: zero stress) possible.  Here’s what my Sherpa duties entailed:

Navigating, driving, and generally helping during transportation trips.  On the way to New Hampshire, I enlisted Google Maps to help me in my role as navigator, and on race morning, I drove one car of soon-to-be half-Ironpeople to transition.  Also, when our house ran out of food after the race (#triathleteproblems), I went to the grocery store with a teammate.

Acting as a sous chef during meal preparation.  Keeping 13 people fed isn’t a small task, and an advantage to renting a house for the weekend included having access to a kitchen.  One of my teammates is an incredible cook/baker—case in point:  He brought one batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies and dough for two more—and he took charge of grocery shopping and food preparation.  In an effort to help, I chopped, stirred, coated, and supervised.

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Supervising grilled cheese production.

Hey, I wasn’t racing!

Being on doggie duty.  Say hello to Hudson the schnoodle!

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This fur baby belongs to two of my teammates, and he joined us for the weekend.  On race day, one of my teammates and I tag teamed and took turns holding the leash, giving him water, and keeping him occupied and out of trouble.

Spectating.  In typical type-A fashion, I downloaded IronTrac to keep tabs on everyone.  It worked well because one, I knew everyone was accounted for and two, it helped us gauge when we would see people.  One of my teammates and I bounced back and forth from the swim exit to a high-traffic area close to transition where we could see people returning on the bike and heading out on the run.  Plus, since the run was a two-loop out-and-back course, we saw everyone twice.  Next year, I need to bring a cowbell!

Have you helped out friends or family during races?