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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ben Hur is a pussy




The Commonwealth Games are the Friendly Games with 70 nations scheduled to participate at The Gold Coast (Australia) 2018, united by the spirit of very sporting competition. But what does this really mean? Well it means hundreds of elite athletes fighting tooth and nail for every tiny advantage they can grab for themselves to become a winner. Hardly altruistic.



The triathlon is an interesting event which includes swimming, cycling and running and is a real test of fitness and stamina, if there ever was one. You might think participants would appreciate fellow competitors and the agony they experience preparing and competing, but beneath the thin veneer of lycro lies a skull doggery not always appreciated by rapturous populous.



Time is of the essence to triatholin athletes with no time to change their clothing from one event to another. Athletes wear skin-tight suits beneath their wetsuits which act as trunks, shorts and vest rolled into one. The fabrics are fast-drying, with padding in the crotch to save saddle-sores and a cut-away top to keep the body cool on the run.



Accidents can happen at the start of the event during the mad melee of water and spray. People get kicked in the face, and elbowed round the back of the head and so athletes wear a latex hat with goggles strapped on the top to save them from being knocked off with flying elbows in the water. Wetsuits have long rubber ties hanging off their zips which make it easier to remove the wetsuit as they run to their bike. Cunning ne'er-do-well rivals have been known to reach out mid-swim and tug the tie leaving the victims wetsuit to flood. The panic when the swimmers try to find their bikes does cause confusion and a trick some play it to leave a marker usually in talcum power which is accidentally but deliberately spilt near their bike. Of course this is not officially condoned.



The mad scramble to the bikes from the sea is also fraught with problems. Athletes leave their kit of helmet and sunglasses so they can grab it all at speed. A passing foot used strategically can scatter opponents cycling kit with critical loss of time to the victim. Ben Hur’s chariot race has nothing on this event.



The Triathlon cycling shoes have one clip and not the normal three and to save precious seconds the shoes are attached to the bike pedals before the race begins. The triathlon athletes start peddling barefoot then stick their feet into the shoes once they have gained pedal momentum. They cannot look down and so all this has to be completed blind. When the competitors are cycling a cunning strategy is to tuck in behind a rider but occasionally ride level with the person in front maintaining a clear conversation just to remind them you are keeping pace and not having to act as pacemaker and wind breaker. Riding slipstream instantly reduces the work load by about 30%. This help preserves energy for the run leg.



Reviewed 30/12/2016

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