Heading to a race doesn’t have to be a solo excursion. Read our tips for keeping the family in tow, without sacrificing your race goals. by Kara DeschenesBehind every great IRONMAN is a great Ironfamily. These are the people who tirelessly fill water bottles, wake up in the wee hours of the morning to drive you to a race and even sacrifice spending time together so that you can train. So why not bring them to your next IRONMAN race?
With careful planning, everyone can have a good time and share in the event experience without feeling deprived of a fun vacation. Below, our tips for keeping your crew happy from the planning stages to the finish line celebration.
Bringing the family along requires strategic thought and consideration when choosing which race location to pursue. Though the actual event might be the main attraction of your trip, finding a race set in an area surrounded by family-friendly activities is key for ensuring everyone has a bit of fun.
Two-time Olympic medalist, ITU World Champion and current IRONMAN New Zealand course record-holder Bevan Docherty asks himself one question to determine whether or not his family should accompany him on a race trip: "If the race weren’t happening, would I still bring my family here?" If the answer is yes, then book the trip. If the answer is no, decide whether going for it alone is a better option or consider another location more conducive to entertainment outside of the race.
Whether it’s IRONMAN 70.3 Florida (theme parks, anyone?), IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman (local New England charm welcome), or IRONMAN Louisville (baseball fanatics unite!) there’s sure to be a race location to fit the interests of every family. With over 100 full- and half-distance IRONMAN races in over 20 countries, all it takes is a little research to find the perfect fit for your crew.
After choosing the perfect spot, consider planning out your time in the area so that all members of your group have the right expectations. Robert McKeown, owner of South Shore TRI Coach and three-time IRONMAN finisher, advises athletes "put a tentative daily schedule on paper to eliminate unnecessary stress." McKeown further recommends allowing each member of the family to choose an activity of interest, making everyone feel involved. Ensure the itinerary allows for a relaxing day before the race, avoiding too much time on your feet.
If your family unit contains children, they can join the fun by participating in a race of their own. Many IRONMAN event weekends include an accompanying IRONKIDS race for your mini-pro. (Read the Athlete Guide for your race to find availability and details for registration.) With a medal for every finisher, even the littlest family members are sure to be bitten by the multi-sport bug.
Though race day might call for a solo mission, supporting the race doesn’t have to be. As part of a pre-race ritual, many athletes scope out each leg of the course to familiarize themselves with the terrain. Make sure to bring your family along for the ride in order to plan out perfect spectating spots. Look for areas that might provide multiple sightings or locations near amenities like restrooms and food. Charting out the course will help your support crew know where to stand for optimal viewing.
Another way athletes can take action to include family in the actual race involves joining the event crew. IRONMAN Timberman 70.3 race director, Audra Tassone, recommends family members consider volunteering on race day to support their athlete and others. Handing water to a thirsty racer or helping direct bikers out of transition are ways to feel more involved in the race journey, while also occupying time in what can be a very long day.
There’s no doubt about it – being an Ironfamily is a tough job. Outside of time sacrifices made during the training leading up to the event, race day calls for unwavering support. Whether standing on the sidelines in hope of getting a five-second glimpse of their athlete or maneuvering the crowds, being a spectator is hard work.
Athletes can show appreciation for their crew with a few simple gestures. Two-time IRONMAN finisher, Eric Hisrbrunner, makes a point to present a personally written letter of thanks to his family the night before a race. Acknowledging their role in achieving a major goal is important to make your family feel connected to the overall experience.
Hirsbrunner further advises athletes take effort to wave, smile or even high-five family members waiting on the course. "Seeing your family and friends can be a welcome shot of adrenaline," says Hirsbrunner, "so make sure you encourage them no matter how you are feeling in that moment." Remember, your family will only see you for small snippets of time and the experience will help fuel them through until the next sighting opportunity.
Though triathlon is an individual sport, getting to the finish line doesn’t have to be! Careful planning and selection of race destination can equal an adventurous family vacation with a side dish of racing for the competitive at heart. Being strategic, involved and appreciative is the perfect recipe for guaranteed family fun.
Kara Deschenes is a health and fitness freelance writer living in Tampa, FL. She has written for Women’s Running and IRONMAN and considers herself an endurance junkie.
Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon-news/articles/2013/07/destination-race-vacation-tips.aspx#ixzz45jO5eKBU