Some decades ago, standing on the deck of the UCSD pool after a
rigorous master’s swim workout, I overheard two college students.
“There are a lot of very fit athletes here.”
“Yeah, but not many healthy ones.”
conversation intrigued me. What did they mean? What was the difference
between fitness and health and where did I fit on that continuum? Some
weeks later, I surmised, the claim was in reference to the dozens of
world class triathletes who constituted the noon-time workout. And the
reference inferred that as you move into the upper echelons of elite
multisport and gain a superior level of fitness, you necessarily
sacrifice basic health.
If this was the case, I wondered if there were to be costs to my
colleagues and I as we chased titles around the globe, training
excessively without the modern benefit of technology-based bio
information. Was our desire to win through performance causing us to
lose through the sacrifice of simple health? The answer(s) to those
questions were to come much later when age, illness, time, and tide had
washed over us.
As any human being who’s read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
knows, you shouldn’t ever be without your towel. Any self-respecting
Wildflower Triathlon veteran knows that the same holds true for life at
the Woodstock of Tri, along with a few more essential items. Below
you’ll find a quick top ten of must-have/must-do items and actions to
make your life easier at Lake San Antonio.
Book/Chair. There is very little in the way of cellular coverage in the
park, and one of the joys of this race is disconnecting from the
digital world for a few days. Bring a book you’ve been meaning to claw
through, and a comfortable folding chair in which to read it.
2. French Press. There is also not much in the way of coffee around
the park, and what there is usually requires a long walk to retrieve it.
Bring a French press so mornings are a little more civilized.
Open water swimming can be exhilarating, liberating, and a little scary.
I’ve competed in over 200 open water swim races and triathlons,
volunteered as a safety paddler at a number of triathlons, and
instructed junior lifeguards for nearly a decade. I’ve learned that
with proper preparation, anyone who can swim can swim in open water.
The three most important things to do to prepare for open water swimming
are: 1) swim in open water; 2) swim in open water; and 3) swim in open
I’ve already put a couple of plugs out on the social media channels,
but wanted to make it “official” for all the craziest ass of my fans
that I am in fact headed back to Wildflower this year - along with
fellow Bend-ite, 3-time defending champ, and overall awesomeness,
To me, this race obviously means a lot. It was my first win, the
first time I felt legitimized as a pro, the devastating surprise end of
my season on a roll, and probably my most shocking performance ever in a
But to be perfectly honest, I’m not heading back to Wildflower
because I want to “defend” or continue a streak or anything like that.
Sure, I would like to do those things, but that’s not the reason I’m
headed back. I’m headed back because I love it, for a lot of reasons.
All of which I’ve talked about many times before.
After kicking off my professional triathlon career way back in 1991, I ceased to call
triathlon my career at the end of 2013...However, Wildflower still has a magnetic pull on
me and I decided that I needed to come back here one last time.
Back in the day, the Wildflower festival was considered in the industry as the unofficial
long course World Champs and the start of the Northern hemisphere triathlon season,
it was the time when everyone came out of hibernation for the first major professional
race for the year.
For years I had heard of this legendary race, but being based in Australia I was focused
on events down under and it wasn’t until 2000 that I finally got myself together to have
a crack at this iconic race.