Theathlete’s body tells a story. Muscle and sinew speak to commitment, dedication, sacrifice, will and glory. Pushed to its limits, the body reveals glimpses of an athlete’s character. Every athlete knows the physical must be matched with intense mental focus and a whole lot of passion. Sit on the sidelines of any triathlon and you’ll see fit, strong, powerful athletes in determined pursuit of the finish line, but you’ll also see a raw, vulnerable display of emotion and spirit.
In fact, the longer the event, the greater the range of emotion. I know for me, on long, five to six hour rides my normally smiling and talkative self adopts a silent, blank, on-the-vergeof- eruption- stare. It’s a look that conveys at once a cranky “hurry up and get this done” and a “this is outstanding” appreciation for the moment. My training partners know it well. At one point they say, “Uh- oh, Suzanne’s not talking anymore.” They know I have entered a place of focused intensity wherein I’m both present and absent.
Watching that process unfold on the sidelines of any race makes spectators want to support, reach out, give of themselves, even if only to yell an encouraging “You can do it!” to a struggling or ecstatic athlete. There is something powerful in that unifying force that transcends sport. Is that force what drives thousands of people to volunteer for endurance events? We need them and we appreciate them, but why are they doing it? In this issue I have interviewed volunteers, race directors and athletes for their take on what makes volunteers volunteer.
As we countdown to Kona, Las Vegas and the Hy-Vee championship races, we are sure to see glimpses into the souls of the world’s best. Kevin Mackinnon outlines the top contenders and the speedy Canadians to watch for. Also in this issue, we celebrate Xterra racing, as TMC’s regular contributor and four-time world Xterra Champ, Melanie McQuaid tells us about her very first race and Shawn Skene profiles another Canadian Xterra standout, Danelle Kabush. Ironman superstar Lisa Bentley shares her secrets on staying injury free, training through injury and how she ran a stellar Boston Marathon this year. In case you want to improve on last season’s swim times, Ayesha Rollinson tells us what to look for in a master’s swim club. We also test ride the new Trek Speed Concept 9.9, likely to leave readers with bike envy. From the hottest fall running gear, to nifty swim training tools and the latest in recovery gear, we’ve got you prepared for fall.
To all those racing in Kona and Vegas, good luck – we’ll be rooting for you.