Fewer People Have More Fun During Race Weekend Than I Do

Fewer People Have More Fun During Race Weekend Than I Do

by Chris H.

I did my first outdoor triathlon in June 2014. I had to learn how to swim, and had to borrow a bicycle because I did not have one. That short race in Knox County, Indiana was supposed to be a “one-and-done,” but instead I got hooked on triathlon, mostly because of Experience Triathlon.

A few years later, I told ET Head Coach Joe LoPresto that I would NEVER do a half or full Ironman triathlon. He chuckled loudly, slapped me on the back, said “Never say never”, and walked away. That moment has always stuck with me. Coach Joe had confidence in me that I did not have, at least at that time. Since then I have completed one full Ironman and seven half Ironman races. My most recent finish happened at Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 in May 2023.

I first raced in Chattanooga in May 2018 on my late father’s birthday. Dad was a firefighter for 31 years. On the run course that year, I wore his firefighting helmet and a custom-made cape so people would know more about him. Five years later, the race happened again during Dad’s birthday weekend. The weather would be too hot to wear any of Dad’s firefighting gear. Many weeks before the race, I informed Coach Joe that I planned to carry my Dad’s memorial flag in its windowbox with me on the run course. He did not reply that he thought I was crazy, because we both already know that! But Coach Joe also knew how important that would be for me and my family, and he gave me a great training program to prepare me.

Triathlon has given me far more than I deserve. I have been honored to watch people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and abilities transform their lives and their health. They inspire and motivate me. Triathletes have become my friends, and many of them are now family.

I also enjoy giving back by volunteering at races when I can. Before race-day, including the morning of the race, I helped hundreds of people at athlete check-in, bike check-in, and in transition. Someone questioned how I had enough energy to do that and then go race. The energy of the town, the race, and all of the people fed me and kept me going. Chattanooga is a very special place to me, for many reasons.

The title describes me perfectly: fewer people have more fun during race weekend than I do. I take my training and my racing seriously, but I also have fun. Throughout race weekend, including on the course, I tried to make people smile or laugh, because my dad would have done that. I told a bunch of “awesome dad jokes”. One or two of them might actually have been funny. I cannot recall smiling and laughing more or having a better time at any race than I did at Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 in May 2013. Representing my Experience Triathlon team and Coach Joe made all of that even better.

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