Monday, June 10, 2013

The Race Results Loophole

Remember when you were growing up and you had those awful standardized tests? Guess what- they still have them. They're still awful. But, that's besides the point. The point was that you had to take them and now you don't (hopefully).

If your teacher was worth anything, you learned some test taking tips. These were especially valuable on multiple choice sections. Here's some examples of good tips:
  • Don't draw patterns on your bubble sheet
  • When in doubt, guess C.
  • Answers with the word 'monkey' in them are likely correct
  • The words 'always' and 'never' are almost always never the right answer
Triathlon isn't much different than your average standardized test (except that, for some reason, race distances aren't as standardized as we'd like them). You spend a year in training attempting to get better at the skills that will give you a good performance on the test, AKA race day.

Now, I'm a competitive bloke by nature. This means that, come race morning, I pretty much hate you. Sure, I'll be smiley and congenial while we are setting up in transition. Inside, I want to slash your tires and toss your running shoes into the trash. Of course, I don't do this because if you take away your competition, there is no race. It's just you again. I paid money to go head to head against other people so I might as well allow you on the course. But, deep inside, I want to crush all of your hopes and dreams of beating me.

One thing that's also clear to me is that I don't want to race a bunch of old women on crutches. Whereas I find those people completely inspiring and believe that they are truly more awesome than me, I don't have any pride in beating them in a race. Some day I'll be racing old women, not today. I cherish a good challenge and I want to race against the best. It's for that reason that I train hard. It's also for that reason, I gave the world the sure fire way to beat me in a race. To summarize:
The only way to beat me in a race is to swim, bike, and/ or run faster than me. Good luck to you. (Ideally, you should get to the finish line before me. But, with wave starts, you never can tell.)
I'm pretty sure that most of you didn't read that closely. The answer is pretty obvious. If you started in my wave and I beat you to the line, well, I beat you. Always.

Nope. Enter 2 dudes, Darren and Lee. I have never met these guys before. I don't know what they look like. I do know they found a loophole in my "How to beat the Banter" system. They know how to take a test and they passed, beat me, even though I made it to the line ahead of them. I have learned their secrets, which I will now share with you.

The Story of Darren and Lee versus the Banter
(Just to be clear, the story is fiction, but the data is real).

Darren and Lee are twins with different last names who live in upstate NY. Their favorite past times are riding horses and tormenting the Farm Boy who lives there. His name was Banter, but they never called him that. They occassionally dabble in the sport of triathlon.

One day at a race, Darren and Lee lined up against the Banter in a race called the Keuka Lake Olympic distance race. All had their wetsuits on and were ready to go. As the gun sounded, it was clear that Darren was the superior swimmer of the 3. He beat both Lee and the Banter out of the water. The Banter was close, only a measly 18 sec behind. Lee didn't fare as well and was almost 2 minutes back.

In transition, Darren had a problem. Apparently, someone has slashed his tires and threw his running shoes in the trash he struggled to get his wetsuit off. The Banter beat him out of transition by a good margin because he knows how to unzip his suit while moving. Lee was also faster in transition and was now within a minute of Darren but still a couple of minutes back on the Banter.

On the road, it was clear that Lee and the Banter were evenly matched. Darren did not ride so well. The Banter kept his 2 minute lead on Lee but Lee had eliminated the gap on Darren. Lee and Darren were reunited in transition 2. Darren, still frustrated with what had happened in T1, put forth a little extra effort. Lee was relaxed and confident, yet a little slower. Darren and Lee ran out of T2 together. Little did they know that the Banter was a significantly better transitioner than they. His margin of lead had increased to about 2 min 30 sec.

On the run, the twins were evenly matched and ran like Dave and Mark in the famous IronWar. The Banter was plodding along at just a bit faster pace. But, if you are a faithful reader you'd know, the Banter's run started to fall apart on the 2nd half. Darren and Lee had each other to keep the Ego boost alive. They started to reel the Banter step by agonizing step.

The joke was on them as they were running out of space. The run was only 6.2 miles long. Darren, frustrated with their race strategy, decided to put on a surge at the end. Little did he know that the Banter had already crossed the line. Darren's last minute effort allowed him to beat Lee by about 18 seconds. The Banter had been standing around for about 90 seconds watching all of the drama and silently dreaming up poetry.

But, when you, me, Darren, or Lee
Check the results sheet, their names
Are listed ahead of the Lames's.
"How could that be?" I pleaded to the RD.

Via email, "Good question" said the RD.
After 12 hours, I waited and waited
The response was slow, feeling baited
The Director to ask the referee.

A good day past my patience flee,
The Ref said I made a mistake.
Surely this must be a fake!
I was assessed a pen-al-ty.

Near the water I broke a rule.
My wetsuit early I did unzip
To better run at a faster clip.
The ref noted, twas not cool.

Let this be a lesson to thee
The rule says 'keep wetsuit intact'
Don't pull the cord down your back ----->
Or you'll be punished, like me.

The ref clearly did not want to see
Wetsuit on but zipper down
Much like this guy, the clown
Two minutes slower now is he

All that work in SBR and T
Proved futile in the race.
He kept a superior pace
And was still beaten by Darren and Lee

So there you have it. A disagreement between me and the rule book resulting in a time penalty. Darren and Lee are good students of the sport and have rightfully (although begrudgingly) found a loophole in the "how to beat the Banter in a race" sweepstakes and came out on top. My 22nd place finish was dropped down to 24th. I was still 3rd in my age group and I learned a valuable lesson that day. Always make sure to slash tires and trash shoes know the letter of the law when it comes to race specific rules.


  1. what rule is that? I've never heard of it, and I can't find it in the USAT rulebook. was that a rule just made up for that particular race?

    1. Marty- this was a 'special' rule found in just 1 place in the world (to the best of my knowledge) at the KLT. Some races have special rules. Some don't. Some are just special.