Advice to an Older Competitor

Sometimes, it’s great fun – I only wish I could get rich and famous giving advice. But, it seems this is not to be, so I’ll have to keep at it just for the fun involved. And there are times when I truly enjoy the process of coming up with nuggets of advice, when asked. Let me give you a fresh example.

A 60-some year-old woman to whom I shall refer only as Wendy to avoid embarrassing anyone and inviting a lawsuit wrote about what she called her “triathlete dilemma.” She wanted my advice concerning what to do. Being an experienced triathlete as well as somewhat of an expert in wellness and a self-styled authority on everything concerning politics, sex and religion, I was happy to offer Wendy my advice about her dilemma.

Here is the issue Wendy faced, as she described it to me in a post this morning:

Don – Please tell me if I handled a certain delicate situation properly. I recently signed up for my first triathlon of the season. Usually, there is nobody else in my 60-65 year female division, so I am a regular occupant on the top rung of the victory stand during award ceremonies. I just love it when everyone cheers and I’m handed a plaque in recognition of my fabulous performance, even if the ceremony has to be delayed a bit awaiting my arrival at the finish line. The race directors usually bring me right up to the stage, deferring to the oldest of the five-year age categories to be first in line to be granted their due. (There are usually older male age groups but the old gals are the ones whose presence is considered a wonderment by all the other triathletes.)

When my name is called out and I stand on the top rung to accept my award, I usually close my eyes and imagine, in the most vivid fashion, the American flag being raised. I hear the powerful chords of the national anthem. I know in my mind’s eye that tens of millions of eyes are glued to television sets around the globe as tears of joy flow at the wonder of my epic triumph.

All people, no matter their nationality, can appreciate the lifetime of sacrifice and single-minded dedication that led me to this stage, to this moment. I know during these moments how Lance felt standing there in his yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees at the conclusion of his seven Tour de France wins.

Of course, I have not worked as hard as Lance, in fact, I hardly train at all. I only took up the sport of triathlon to lose weight a few years ago, but never mind that. I am a triathlete. And the age group champion at that – and don’t you forget it, Buster.

In any event, back to my delicate situation, or triathlete’s dilemma. When I went to sign up for the race online, I got a bit of a scare: I discovered that there was actually another person in my age group! Mirabile dictu! I immediately went to last year’s results to see whether this woman had done the race last year. I found that she had ~ in the 45-49 age group!! The nerve of that impostor! Trying to win by sneaking into the geezer’s group. Hah! I turned her in to the race director. He, of course, assumed that it was simply a typo on her entry, but I suspect otherwise. Most importantly, I am, at least for now, the only entrant in my age group. I can follow the immortal counsel of Ashleigh Brilliant, who in one of his thousands of ‘Potshots’ offered these words: ‘To be the best, be the only one in your group.’ That’s my goal, and I’m willing to enforce it, even if I have to become a birther of sorts in demanding a long form original birth certificate of all my competitors.

My question to you, Oh wise one, is this: Did I do the right thing? Should I have protested or just held my peace, mind my own business and do the best I could, come what may? I await your reply.

I advised Wendy that she made a mistake. We who are in the oldest categories need all the competition we can get, as the years go by. Without someone to race against, we can’t truly win. Showing up and finishing is NOT winning. I advised Wendy to recruit, not disqualify, competitors. If necessary, offer to pay the entry fees for elderly ladies willing to enter races for which you plan to sign up. The alternative is to try to persuade younger, very slow female triathletes to “move up” to your age group. In short, Ms. Wendy, you should not have outed this impostor. You should have waited to see if she could whup you. THEN you could have outed her. If you crushed her, she need never know that you knew, the better to keep her coming back.