In writing this little piece, I hope to get some opinions from other out there to help make a decision. I will include a little background first and then add some of my questions.
I started competing regularly in duathlons in 2007 after a few years of running. Before that, I was an overweight, beer drinking, hockey goalie that couldn’t finish 1 kilometre of consecutive running. I actually started running in 2005, at the age of 31, to get back into shape after more than a decade of beer league sports. In the fall of 2006, I bought a cheap road bike and completed two duathlons near the end of the season. I didn’t do that well but I was hooked.
The challenge of improving and finishing in a respectable fashion pushed me to train all winter and spring to see what a full year in the sport would bring. My progress was pretty quick for an older athlete and my love affair with the sport continued to grow. As I looked for more information about duathlon and triathlon, I read about the Canadian Duathlon Championships taking place in Parry Sound, not too far from Toronto. I noticed the championship was open to all athletes, and offered qualifying spots to the Worlds for the following year, I decided to take a run at it and see just how much work I needed to put in to match up with the best in the country.
At that point, Triathlon Canada was offering 8 spots per 5 year increments so this seemed thrilling and something I would have to race well to achieve. I was doing much better at the start of 2007 than my initial 2 races in 2006 but I realized I would have to increase my training if I wanted an opportunity to represent my country so early in this sport. By the time the event rolled around they had placed all the World Duathlon qualifying spots on the line in this race, therefore, 12 people from each age group could go to Italy in 2008. With only 13 duathletes in our age group, it took the suspense out of the race for me and left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I decided to travel up to the race anyway and ended up having my best performance up to that point, finishing 23rd overall. This was good enough for 6th in my age group, easily grabbing a spot for Italy. Reading about those extra spots a few days before the race, and the expense it would cause (my wife and I had just started our family and saving for a house); I had already decided that I would pass up my spot, as did many others I spoke to at the event.
In 2008, the World Duathlon qualifying spots were once again reserved for those racing at the Canadian Championships. The national event was held in Montreal and the spots would give you access to the Concord, North Carolina race in 2009. I continued to grow as a duathlete and was having a solid sophomore season on the Subaru Series leading up to the Canadians. With both venues (Montreal and North Carolina) relatively close to home, I was saving my pennies and confident that I could secure a spot to wear the Canadian uniform. That was until a knee injury flared up weeks before my trip to Montreal and I ended up having to skip this race to make sure I did not damage the area any further. When this happened I was more bummed to miss the chance to race against the guys from outside the Subaru Series and not too concerned about a slot for the worlds. I had seen how the spots were left up for grabs after the 2007 race and figured they would not fill up.
Now in 2009, I am still improving and have been in touch with Triathlon Canada after reading their posting a few months back regarding the open spots for North Carolina. I have been on the fence about applying for a spot for a number of reasons. I wanted to make sure I was physically going to hold up to another year in the sport. I took on a lighter race schedule and spread the training into two parts per day which seems to be working. Also, I wanted to make sure I could compete at a decent level if I was to make the trip. I think I would do OK and finish top 20 in my age group so I am happy with my racing.
Here is my dilemma. In the sport of duathlon, where almost anyone that shows up for the qualifying event can make the national team, is it really that much of an honour? Also, is the price associated with being on the team really worth it? So far I have seen a $300 Team Canada Membership fee, $150 late application fee (for not qualifying and for not signing up within a week after the qualifying event), $200 USD event entry fee, a few hundred dollars for a Team Canada uniform, and hotel, food and travel costs.
I am very proud of my achievements and love the sport of duathlon. I would also love to be able to wear a Team Canada uniform against the best in the world and show it off at future multisport events. That being said, I have a battle inside my head trying to justify the costs associated with being on this team. I realize multisport does not have the funding to assist us too much but you would think some of these costs could be eliminated or reduced to make the experience more feasible.
Let me know your thoughts? The good and the bad, I can take it!