Why I Tri – a triathletes manifesto – part 1

There is numerous reasons why people Tri. My own reasons to do triathlons and live the triathlon lifestyle have demanded countless hours of thoughts and reflection to get straight. Luckily, I got lots of those hours when out riding and running.

If we look at the big picture, us the people living in the western world have a material wealth, which is huge. Relatively speaking we have it very easy and pleasant. Our homes are comfortable; we have easy access to food and quit few have a job that demands us risking our lives. We can get everything we need without moving a muscle. What is not to love?

When I think back to our great ancestors, who lived as hunters and gatherers in the hot savannas in Africa, their life where quit different. Having to literally run after your food until it overheated and laid down was hard work! A hunt could last from four to eight hours, and you had to do it when the radiation from the sun was at peaking to exploit the human’s supreme ability to cool down. After hunting for hours in the merciless sun they had to carry the fallen antelope back to the village. While 90 % of our lifespan as humans have been lived as this the change to agriculture society was understandable. Why run down an animal when you can domesticate it and have it close to your village?

San people of Kalahari is (according to David Attenborough) the last tribe in the world practicing persistence hunting. They have lived more or less unchanged for 40.000 years, and some people will say that they are simple and have not moved forward. At least the have lived one place for such a long time witout making one scar in nature. We cannot brag about the same.

As a modern society today we have moved far away from our origin and developed technology to that extent that we have separated us from nature all together. At least we think and live like we have. While I am very fond of an easy and predictable access to food, I also understand what it makes us miss out. My local supermarket is 150 meters from where I live, and I have to do a minimal effort to bring the food to my home. Our ancestors had do undertake extreme physical loads in hours to do the same. Imagine my and your own sensation after walking the 150 meters back and fourth from the supermarket and bring the food on your table. Then imagine our ancestor’s sensation after pushing their body to the limits in a starving state and finally came to the moment when the antelope gave up, and food was secured. Walking to the supermarket, or even worse driving, does not give us that sensation.

That’s one reason why I Tri. The pure physical demand of it. Finishing a full distance triathlon, especially the extreme ones, is bloody hard. All the training for it as well. Nevertheless, I enjoy it. I enjoy pushing the body and thrive on the sensation of having to breach physical and mental barriers to be able to finish. I love being out on the bike breathing fresh air feeling the elements of nature on the body. Feeling the physical demand and being able to satisfy that demand. Often when I am out on the long rides I get back into town at the same time as others done from work and headed out of town back home. They drive their very expensive cars capable of driving at 250 km/h or more, at a speed of less then 15 km/h due to a big queue. With an expensive car, big homes (and a cabin in the mountain, boat in the harbor etc.) many have huge material wealth. At first sight it seems to be a lot, but with a closer look it is very little. Working long hours in a stressful work, endless queuing back and forth getting a solid income achieving only to buy things that you really don’t need? I apologies if I offend anyone, but to me that is not living. That is being alive.

The pinnacle of the physical challenge in triathlon is obviously the racing. Standing on the start line is both exiting and petrifying at the same time. Towards my most important races I could have been mentally preparing and rehearsing it for nearly a year in advance. Preparing to keep calm in the chaotic swim start. Imagine the sensation when going full throttle of the bike, trying my best to control my early effort to be able to finish strong before the run. Visualize running shoulder to shoulder with my strongest competitors and prevail. In my head I make it to a battle of life and death. I think about my ancestors, and their physical challenge, a challenge that actually was a battle of life and death. It is my way of going back to my origin. It has been a long time since we roamed the savannas living like they did, but my genes and DNA have not evolved a lot from theirs. I am made for similar physical demands. I need a similar physical demand. Going in the footsteps of my ancestors in Africa is not feasible in the society I live, and traditional hunting with guns is not my cup of tea, nor similar to the ancient hunting methods. To undertake a great physical challenge, and be outside the whole day giving it your all and everything, must give you a similar experience and sensations as our ancestors hunting. Crossing the finish line might be comparable to the moment the antelope falls. Gratitude, relief, pride and a unmatched sensation of achievement. That’s why I Tri.

This photo, taken by Jørgen Melau is one of my favorites. Usually I smile a lot on photos, but here I did not. It was on the final stage of Norseman 2013 and I was «beaten» by the mighty mountain. Physically I was tired and freezing but mentaly I was totally broken to bits. In many ways I resigned and my speed slowed down so much that my 10 minutes lead to Lars Christian Vold, who finished 4.place was reduced to only 37 seconds on the last 4,7 km mountain part. The picture reminds me of that moment and that state of mind, where I never want to go again. Under experiences like these, you learn a lot about yourself. What you are capable of and where your limits are, and that your limits can be stretched far beyond your initialy thought.

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I am a 33 year old PRO triatlete. My goal is to swim, bike and run as fast as possible, and enjoy the journey. All my adventures and triathlon related stuff is well documented on this blog.

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