Triathletes are rare souls capable of one of the most torturous athletic events in sports: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles on bike and a full 26.2 mile marathon. Completing a triathlon is just as much about mental endurance as physical endurance with even the quickest athletes finishing at around 10 hours.
Regional triathletes will be converging on Oklahoma City this Saturday for the fourth annual Redman Triathlon, which will be drawing out racers young and old who will challenge themselves for pride, for their health and just to show that they can.
"I really enjoy food and this is how I keep my weight down, by doing triathlons," three-time competitor Kelsey Swinford said. "It's also a good challenge. It's always interesting to see peoples' faces when I say 'I'm a triathlete.' It shocks them and they don't understand why I'd do it."
THREE RACE TYPES
The Redman is staged at Lake Hefner, with the bike portion stretching as far as Piedmont Road. Competitors can race individually, or as part of a team. There are three race types, the full Iron Man, a half Iron Man or the Aquabike, which is just the swimming and biking portions of the race. The race is sanctioned by USA Triathlon, so coordinators and volunteers will closely watch the competitors to insure everyone makes it to the finish safely.
"When you have nearly 700 athletes in the water, you have to remain diligent in keeping them accounted for," Race Director David Wood said. "We are required to have a watercraft for every 10 swimmers, so there will be a huge number of boats out there, all with a lifeguard on them."
Swinford trained for 36 weeks ahead of the race, but many participants, like David Kincannon, have to wedge training into hectic everyday lives.
"I try to follow the 12-week training schedule, but with my schedule, I don't have a lot of time," Kincannon said. "I just try to stay fit as I go along, be glad that I'm participating and be happy that I can finish."
Most participants are not competing against the others in the race, but against the race itself. The goal isn't necessarily finishing in the front of the pack, but just finishing at all. The race will have competitors of all age ranges seeking a challenge.
"We have a significant amount of athletes that are over the age of 60. At least 6 to 8 percent of the entire registration list are 55 and over," Wood said. "It requires will, dedication, perseverance and maturity to do a race of this distance and that typically comes with age. These are people who are willing to live through the suffering that comes with an event like this."
Wood also said that volunteers won't pack up until the last racer crosses. Last year's caboose competitor finished after 20 hours. Wood said the competitor is not only returning this year, but she helped start a program to ease the lonely plight of last place.
"She started a volunteer brigade that's going to accompany the last athlete in this year, and she plans on doing it every year," Wood said.
Kincannon set some goals for himself for each individual event as motivation, but Swinford said she doesn't plan on even looking at the clock at all during the race. She's more concerned with enjoying the experience.
"Success for me is finishing the race, still able to walk with no injuries, minimal cramps, smile on my face," Swinford said. "Then that'll be a good race." "Charles Martin