Words by Bill Lakic
Mandurah Interclubs, what a fun race! The vibe as soon as I turned up was one of friendly welcome, a relaxed occasion where the different clubs could meet and celebrate our sport. So many friends, so many people I knew, all of whom responded to the word ‘mate’. Names really are so overrated.
The race briefing was excellent, the head honcho from the Mandurah Tri Club gave a warm welcome and a race overview and I did my level best to appear that I was listening. Then a chap from overseas, possibly on exchange from a Bulgarian triathlon club, started speaking and addressing the crowd in his own language. Most of us politely nodded, feigned genuine interest and even laughed when indicated with only a couple seconds of delay. I’ve always believed that taking sincere interest in other people works best when you fake it.
Anyways, so now I’m standing in the water, making minor adjustments to the local thermal profile of the Indian Ocean, and I look at all the people who are lining up in the first wave and realise how precious, dedicated and good hearted they are, and I pray for them, I give my strongest wishes, that when the gun goes that as they sprint out, at least one person will splatter face first and hopefully take down a dozen people with them so that when this happens to me, I won’t look like such a twit.
An inspirational race briefing
But unfortunately, it didn’t happen to any of them, and my dainty entrance saved it from happening to me. Soon, however, in the swim I realised that something was wrong, very wrong. No one was bashing me, grabbing me, drowning me or locking me in a rear naked choke. In fact, everyone seemed polite and considerate, which for a triathlon swim made me contemplate whether I had been beamed into a parallel universe or something. I vaguely recall the Bulgarian chap mumbling something about turning at various coloured buoys, but my motto of ‘when in doubt follow the crowd and if you stuff up blame someone else’ worked perfectly.
The bike route was a two lap affair, and luckily a plethora of turns saved everyone from settling into a rhythm and getting bored. I of course was just getting over an illness so mainly cruised along rather than raced, and devoted quite some mental energy working out how long I could use that excuse for. The twisty windy stuff was actually good fun, and armed with a sack full of excuses that cushioned me from the fact that I was being repeatedly passed, I was really enjoying zooming around the Mandurah foreshore. Then some bloke on a road bike, who was young and obnoxiously fit and filming with a GoPro in one hand, zoomed past, wished me well and shot off to the horizon. Mmm, gotta work on that fitness stuff!
Unlike Bill, this North Coaster goes fast
The run course was delish! Except for the oxygen debt, stitches and lungs hanging out of my mouth, it was lovely. The course vibe was sweet. Although everyone seemed intent, focused and in the zone, the general feeling was one of mateship, friendliness and a unity in sharing an experience. So many from so many clubs said hi or go North Coaster, stuff like that. Due to my aerobic shortcomings, I chose an economical response, a thumb raised about one centimetre in reply, it was all I could manage and seemed to do the job. Finish line! Party starts, so does the yackety yack. However, the tummy beckons to a more desirable place. The barby! This is the real reason why I do this race. So I walked up to the members only section of the North Coast barby, grab a roll and was assailed by a question that stunned me. ‘Would you like bacon and egg or vegetarian?’ The universe seemed to stop, my reeling mind processed, my reply shot out. ‘Do I look like a Goddamn Communist? Get me them bacon and egg, and I’ll only take that vegetarian stuff if it has meat inside!’ The boys postured back, crossed their arms and gave me that sly look with the slow head nod, I knew I’d gotten their respect. Ok, they then started laughing hysterically at me, but for that brief moment I knew I was the man! Nice burger too.
Look everyone, I caught a Ninja!
The main feeling I took away from that race was how fun it was, how friendly all the clubs were and a renewed feeling of why I love this sport. I, and I dare say everyone who was there, congratulate the Mandurah Triathlon Club for organising and hosting a great event. See you there next year.
All photos courtesy of Focused Ninja Photography