Most of my generation and older will be familiar with the I Spy books by Michelin (or rather now by Collins in association with Michelin) and if you are not familiar with the books, you should certainly be familiar with the game.
I have spent a LOT of time at triathlons and other various races, at which, hanging around can just be simply quite boring. There have been a few occasions when I have been with mates where I have mentioned that I should write my own I Spy book for others in a similar position but equally as an athlete racing – playing I Spy is pretty fun!
So, here it is. It is, as it stands, a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ and as much as I would LOVE to publish this as an actual book, I am not sure Collins would be too game for it. I may just email them any way to ask.
- Registration Tent – filled with hardy volunteers, mostly lovely and supportive – especially at Tri Club organised races. They understand!
- Lost race licences and stressed athletes looking for said race licence (pre-race nerves).
- Sleepy looking spouses and families who have been dragged along for the day.
- Someone eating a banana/gel/breakfast.
- The über-keen triathlete, rocking up with a full TT bike set up, with matching disc wheel for a super-sprint.
- Lost safety pins. You can never have enough. Really!
- The panic-strikened athlete who has forgotten *inserts important piece of kit* = panic-strikened athlete.
- Discussion of race tactics – this is just a scare tactic…
- Technical officials telling people to move their kit! Don’t try to mark your spot people! It’s just not on…. although that bright pink bar tape….
- Race briefing – nod and turn up – usually a wise idea (like reading the race pack).
- Maps of the race – because sign posting may be hazardous or you may want to just scare yourself about the elevation…. that you didn’t check before you raced.
- LONG queues for the toilets – and possibly even someone sharing wet wipes – this happened at my last big race. He was a hero.
- The athlete asking someone to help them into their wetsuit/zip it up. Common occurrence!
- The athlete who has forgotten their body glide and asking if anyone has any lube to help them out!
- Forgotten or lost googles. Take two pairs. This is sage advice.
- The swimmers doing breast stroke – and feeling smug that your front crawl is OH SO GRACEFUL.
- People swimming. Obviously.
- Lost swim caps!!
- Pontoons/deep water starts.
- The swimmer who put a swim time down that was a bit too ambitious. We all know someone who will do this, claiming adrenaline will kick in on the day….
- The swimmer who does extra laps in a pool based tri or swims a lot further than needed in OW. I know several who have done this!
- A swimmer getting kicked. Inevitable, especially in open water. Rude people. Just rude – although some people see this as a sport in itself.
- The swim being cancelled due to blue green algae or some other reason. Come on people – we are supposed to be hardy triathletes. Who wants to do a duathlon?
- Swim cut short due to weather/other reason unfathomable to mankind – although at the inaugural (and only) Edinburgh 70.3 – I saw the sea and, well, yeah… wise move!
- Swim buoys that cannot be seen. Without my glasses, I am NOT going to see that buoy around that far distant corner….
- Kayakers – wise people. Usually lovely too. Major kudos to those supporting LONG swims.
- A swimmer going the wrong way! (Bonus points if more than 3 swimmers are following) – watch the buoys people – I’ve seen this happen.
- Flipflops littering the start line. Honestly do NOT understand why getting from T1 to the start isn’t given more thought in some races.
- Lost athletes. Walking transition before a race is a GOOD IDEA for a reason.
- Athletes fiddling over watches – common in T2 as well. I’ve only just got the hang of mine.
- Athletes who sit down to put on cycling shoes – again this is me. I am a very lazy triathlete.
- The triathletes who have managed to master the art of keeping their shoes on their bike and put them on as they mount.
- The technical official reminding people to put their helmets on before touching their bikes.
- The athlete getting told off for mounting too soon.
- A hybrid/mountain bike – especially in super/sprint triathlons – sometimes the sign of a novice/doing it for the sheer hell of it. It goes to prove that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the swankiest bike – I love seeing people getting involved.
- An aero bike/TT bike – love the variety actually and the ‘oooooo that’s nice’ – I don’t get bike envy much any more but can appreciate a nice bike. It’s more amusing though in small local races when it might not be so serious that some people take it so seriously… if that makes sense.
- Clip on TT bars – I’ve given mine away to a mate now I have a TT bike. I never really got on with them in terms of my position on the bike, but definitely useful and not to be sniffed at.
- Trainers! Not every triathlete is there with cleats etc – does make for SPEEDY transitions though.
- Drafting in a non-drafting race – just don’t. It isn’t a group ride.
- Pointy helmets – you know what I mean! Aero/marginal gains! I will admit that I have been looking at new helmets…
- Full kit w*nkers – I have nothing against this – I am just too tight to buy full club race kit. In all honesty though, in triathlon, it could just be a club trisuit… always good from a support point of view though as it makes athletes in your own club easier to spot and often volunteers and general supporter are far more likely to support in terms of ‘Go York!’ etc.
- Lost water bottles. Easy done.
- Gel wrappers strewn on the road side – actually against the rule – and littering is bad anyway – you managed to carrying this far, you can take it home!
- A technical official or volunteer reminding someone to take their helmet off
- Stretchy/Elastic laces – time saver in T2 if you are that keen.
- Wetsuits strewn all over – it tends to still be reasonably tidy after T1…
- Bikes racked wrong way.
- Someone scoffing a gel or food before heading out to run.
- Run/walkers (this was me at my last race!) – nothing wrong with this at all.
- Runners flinging themselves down the descents. This happens all the time anyway – free speed!
- Walking runners until they see support or get near the finish line.
- High-fiving support especially from small children.
- Awesome support banners – way more common on the run – love them! The more insulting the better!
- Someone handing out haribo/jelly sweets – yes we love you.
- Amazing marshals who are dancing and enjoying it as much as you aren’t – there was one couple at Outlaw X this year on the back section of the run who were just incredible – I do not know how they kept it up.
- ‘Only a parkrun left to go’ – yes I know – knowing doesn’t help!
- Stretchy/elastic laces – mentioned again as they are just cool.
- Hands up in the air in celebration of surviving – you all know what pose I mean!
- The joyous support crew who finally think that they can go home – we all know that this is a big lie and that there is about to be lots of faffing and reviewing of said race.
- Post race queue for a massage – thankfully I was so late/slow, the queue was minimal – I quite often skip them though.
- Athletes who put on their race t-shirt on as soon as humanly possible, along side medal – yes you!.
- Comparing results with friends/clubmates/rivals/enemies, and comparing to the nth degree.
- Someone making excuses for times – everyone is usually guilty of this at some point. My run time at my last race was due to injury – but I was expecting a DNF.
- Someone doubled up about to be sick – obviously raced hard and given it their all (me post XC or a CX race).
Other random things to look out for:
- Bored spouses/children who have been brought along under duress with the promise/lure of food.
- Varying degrees of race t-shirt bragging. Martyn Brunt wrote an article for Triathlon 220 on the subject of race t-shirt hierarchy.
- Athletes wondering around in Dryrobes or similar – they really are nice bits of kit post race!
- A mass of VW Transporters in various colours. Definitely a popular mode of transport – I keep jokingly saying that if I had £5 for every one I saw/spotted on the road, I would be a well off woman. I stand by this, as my trip to the gym alone would have made me £20 tonight.
- People consuming random looking concoctions post race.
- Random things in post race goodie bags/pre-race goodie bags.
- Random post-race prizes instead of a medal eg. A paperweight…..
- Race branding on the most random of items (Ironman I am thinking of you!)
I am sure I have missed some bits off here to be quite honest, so I may add to it. This list has been in my head all summer – I jokingly said about adding bike brands are some are more rare than others (Ridleys are pretty thin on the ground in triathlon but in CX, common as muck!!) but then this would be a VERY long list.