Playing netball is just what I do. Having played it for over 25 years, it’s such an ingrained part of my weekly life, taking priority over a number of other events in my life (yes, I am going to be one of those horrendous people who chooses to coach and play the first game of the season instead of going to a friend’s wedding). So when I developed an injury in my achilles, there was no way I was going to let that stop me.
However, two seasons later, I saw the light and decided to rest and rehab it so I’m ready for this upcoming season. This has meant I haven’t been able to start pre-season with my club. This has also meant that I was unable to train for, and ultimately participate in, the first Triathlon held in Swan Hill at the end of February.
And after watching the competitors cross the finish line on Sunday, I was a little relieved that I didn’t end up doing it, but was a whole lot jealous of the feelings of elation they all displayed in the post-race delirium that engulfed them. One of those I was jealous of was my very own co-editor and co-contributor. Here’s her take on the day, as well as the lead up….
Firstly, I would like to point out that I would most likely choose the wedding. The idea of sipping on a champers whilst belting out a few 80’s songs at the top of my ruthless lungs – not to mention, a sleep in and no screaming children – appeals far more than the bench warming alternative. Perhaps this non-committal attitude and my past ability (University days) to run half the length of the netball court in a post-alcoholic haze before they called ‘step,’ is the reason I elected to announce my early retirement from netball.
However, a triathlon/wedding clash may narrate a different story. Thankfully, I didn’t have to make a choice this time around and was able to enjoy the Voyage Fitness Riverside Triathlon guilt-free, unlike my injury-laden sidekick.
The Swan Hill Riverside Triathlon was like the glowing light at the end of a long injury tunnel for me. When I first got an invite to like the new Facebook page, I experienced a mixture of excitement and apprehension simultaneously. While I had longed for such an event in the Swan Hill area from the moment I arrived over five years ago, I was also concerned that my knee injury would rear its hideous head and I would be forced to the sidelines yet again.
Nevertheless, it would appear that the Riverside Triathlon and I were fated to be together and as the final month approached and I dabbled in a little running again with a great bunch of like-minded, inspiring people, I decided to lock in my entry. With an entry fee at half the price of the city triathlons, no accommodation or travelling expenses and a glorious setting on the banks of the Murray River with copious local crowd support, I felt like I had stumbled on a pot of gold.
And what gold it was!
With nearly 400 participants (locals and around the state) across all three events, including a 5km fun run/walk, the atmosphere was certainly abuzz with young and old down at the picturesque Riverside Park during the early hours of Sunday morning, as everyone collected their race kits and checked their bikes into transition in preparation for the start gun.
After a safety briefing, short course competitors were ushered to the start line where they were sent off at 12 second intervals according to estimated swim times, shortly followed by the sprint triathletes. The rest of us watched with angst, and I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t a little envious when the leading swimmers were exiting the pool within minutes. Regardless of my significant swimming improvements, I was certainly not destined to be a fish, and the nerves still engulf me every time.
The staggered start went off without a hitch (apart from a moment where I thought my goggles were lost, but actually around my neck) and as I grabbed the ladder at the end of the final lane, relief flooded my body as I clasped for dry land. The 30 seconds of running out of the pool (always my preferred section of the swim) reunited competitors with their bikes. If there wasn’t an assortment of roaming eyes in the vicinity, I could have possibly kissed mine.
I’m going to spare you the vivid details of the ride because I might get heart palpitations with excitement, but I was stunned by the diversity of participants – from young kids and their parents, complete novices, to the seasoned competitors leading the pack – all out encouraging and supporting one another in unison. And with such a large contingent of familiar faces on course to eagerly cheer on as I rode, it was breathtaking (literally). The community spirit was incredible, not to mention the superb volunteers who gave up a huge part of their day to make this event possible for us.
Greeted by wide, flat open roads with little congestion, and the additional view of the enchanting Murray River to our left, this course did not disappoint. Running off the bike is always challenging and I knew some mothering dues would be waiting at the finish, so when I rode toward the dismounting line, I did ponder the idea of riding into the horizons; never to return (or at least enjoy a coffee in peace).
Unfortunately I knew they would eventually hunt me down (and I was looking forward to hearing about my daughter’s fun run experience), so with loads of friendly local crowd support (thank you guys- you really made the day for everyone), I strapped on my trusty running shoes for the last leg.
Getting to weave through the perfectly placed Pioneer Settlement in the final 2km of the race was definitely the highlight of the event for me. Being greeted with a smiling, multi-skilled band in the main street of the Settlement who managed to play some great beats whilst adding in the odd words of friendly encouragement, was certainly the spur I needed to muster up one final burst (more of a shuffle up the hill) to the finish chute.
However, even though the event had its ‘on-the-day’ challenges for competitors, the real heroes of the event were the hard-working organisers who have been working tirelessly for many months behind the scenes to make the whole day possible. Additionally, with up to 70 volunteers on and off course, not to mention an array of spectators and businesses there to support the event (as well as a generous cheque of $900 for the Swan Hill Outdoor Pool), the Swan Hill community sure was a triathlon force to be reckoned with on Sunday.
As Swan Hill’s interest in triathlon surges, and the days of solo lap swimming are numbered, I simply cannot wait to see what is in store for next year’s Riverside Tri now that Swan Hill has made its mark on the triathlon calendar. If this first year is anything to go on, my heart palpitations might just turn into loss of consciousness next year!
Couldn’t have said it better myself. The event really did bring all sorts of members of the community together in such a positive and enjoyable way. What my co-contributor failed to mention was that she placed in the top ten female finishers… probably worth choosing a triathlon over a wedding with results like that. Just saying.