A Devotee on a Pilgrimage

“This life choose me. What god could make it stop, make it end / All these years pushed to the ledge?” Rise Against.

In 1998 I did my first tri and got my first copy of inside triathlon (remember the oversize format?) and the first story I read was about Wild Flower. It was THE race. It was the start of the year and the biggest event outside Kona. It drew the best; and had a mix of burning man; Woodstock and tri all in one weekend long holiday to our religion, an evil racing cult. It survived into the modern era despite huge market forces that can’t seem to extinguish one simple truth: Wild Flower isn’t a WTC event; it’s far far far better. Better course, better organization, better treatment of athletes, better crowds and something no WTC 70.3 event has: a history and sense of community. 30000 freaks in the woods bonded by sweat, mud and gears.

For me this is a pilgrimage. A trip across the country to the other coast to pay homage and to circle the sport’s Kabul 3 times (one rotation each of swimming biking and running). I am less concerned about how I race personally and more concerned that I honor this race, with a good effort, good performance and empty myself like the righteous pilgrim I hope I am. Honestly, the 70.3 distance have passed me by. The crop of 70.3 specialists and ITU speedsters dominate this distance along with a handful if freaks that can blaze ironmans too and I need to go twice as long to catch any of them. But it’s a perfect tune up for me as I prep for Challenge Atlantic City in late June and I feel primed for a good race and some fast spits. So with the pressure gone and nothing to lose, I am going into this one for me. To return to Mecca and hear the call to prayer and to once again honor the spirit of sport and to suffer the practices my religion. Sport is good, Sport is great.


One Comment

  1. Beautiful prerace report.
    Im so glad you’re going back there and, of course, a bit jealous (woodstock of tri and all).
    I’m pretty sure you meant the Kaaba of our sport, not its Kabul, but I love the metaphor, nonetheless.

    Have a great race. What could be better than a half distance race with a trail run?!?!

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