For the Greater Sporting Good

I spent Sunday cooped up in a boiling car, with the family travelling to and from Bristol.   No 1 Son got out of it by ironically attending a First Aid Course for his Duke of Edinburgh, despite his apathy this I believe to be a necessary life skill.  You are quite entitled to ask why the rest of us wanted to spend the day in the car?  So would I, so do I!   Sexy Sporty Dad was in the Bristol Triathlon along with what seemed to be thousands of other people.

I have nothing against Bristol as such but to me it brings back fearful memories of trips and stays at the Children’s hospital which would rather remain hidden.   It is not a town I would contemplate living or working near for that very reason.

All weekend Sexy Sporty Dad was having reservations about taking part; the drive, the heat and this time it was not a little village attempt.  This was going to have Olympic trainees also in attendance albeit attempting to go twice the distance. When it came to it, if we went to give support then he felt obliged to attempt it.

I cannot say for one moment the journey was in the slightest bit enjoyable; squabbling children, overbearing heat and never ending traffic jams.  We arrived with minutes to spare; Sexy Sporty Dad leapt from the car and sprinted down to the registration tent.  I was moved on by the marshals.   It took another 45 minutes for us to meet up again to deliver his bike and kit.   As I rejoined the carriageway the road led into one of the many ring roads out of Bristol.   Try as I may, I could not get back.  Middle Son and Sat Nav were doing stirling work directing me back but each time we got near, the road was blocked due to you guessed it; the Triathlon.

There were differing groups and we watched the beginning of his swim.   50 eager wet-suit clad middle aged men climbed down into the oil filmed dirty brown water of the harbour. A klaxon sounded and they were off, fifty white swimming hats bobbing along towards a blown up bouy in the distance.     We watched as they began to arrive back.  One man was dragged from the water; paramedics helping him to sit up and breath as they unzipped his figure huggingly tight wetsuit.  He wasn’t going to finish.   We waved cheerily as Sexy Sporty Dad came out of transition and set off for 11 gruelling miles around Bristol on his bike.

Horror set in as we watched two cyclists come together, their bikes and bodies intertwine as they somersaulted together in the air.  The action slowed like in the films, as the scene played out in front of us; there was nothing we could do to stop the inevitable.  Marshals and paramedics flew to their aid and began unravelling the intertwined bodies and bikes. One of the cyclists finally got back on to his bike and wobbling precariously set off to face the struggle ahead.   The other after much attendance by the medics was removed by St John Ambulance crew either to hospital or the start, his bike walked back to the start by a marshal.

Wandering around at the end of the race amidst spectators and competitors alike, there were competitors who had completed the race, radiating bright red faces, bent over trying to catch their breaths having expended their final calories.   Some were being forced to drink to combat the hallucinative effects of dehydration.  There were upper bodies bared with open weeping grazes covering the whole back, shoulder and upper arm.   There were competitors with their legs and arms with new bandaging protecting injured limbs.   Sexy Sporty Dad reported passing fellow competitors who had just stopped still, unable to take one more step; one person bent over vomiting on the side of the road incapable of moving another inch.

All this in the name of sport!   How many of the many hundreds who took part will be off sick today from injured body parts or worse still stomach upsets having swallowed even just a tiny bit of that water.

I have spent many a Sunday afternoon and night in casualty followed by the children’s ward at hospitals following a game of friendly rugby.   I take the children in and go through the usual question and answer session.  “Oh you have been before, yes we have your son’s name on record.”  You can see their minds working with suspicion.

“He plays rugby” I hastily explain.  Suddenly they understand and I am a kind hearted concerned mum; no longer a potential child abuser.  My child is suffering these horrific injuries for a game.    It is OK for me to allow my child to put himself into danger each weekend for a game of rugby or bmx biking; as long as it is considered sport.

What of the poor spectators who are not taking part but cheering their loved ones on.  In Bristol we found the lakeside cafe who gave us tea, coke (the drinking variety although others may have been passively filling the air), tiffin to die for and ice-cream.  The lad serving said they had not stopped all day.  I also noticed the pub opposite the start of the swim had people bulging out onto the road with pints in their hands raised in cheer towards friends or family in their efforts.    St John’s ambulance was out in force administering water and the like to dehydrated onlookers who hadn’t had the pre-thought to bring a drink with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a walk or a family bike ride but we seem to have the two extremes in this country.  We either go all out, suffering for sport or we support with a raised glass and a snack.   Nadal and our own Murray suffered injuries on the way to their final departure from this year’s Wimbledon but did they give up?  No they pushed on; possibly doing more incurable damage rather than feel a failure which neither can really claim to be. Is it not a better thing to enjoy playing a game or taking part in some form of activity, rather than pushing ourselves to the limits.  Has the greater good gone to far. Have we taken the Governments warnings on obesity to obsession!

So, to all those triathletes who competed in Bristol this weekend, WELL DONE.  For those who make it into work an even bigger WELL DONE.  To all those supporters: I hope your loved ones come and cheer you on next time you take part in your chosen sporting activity!  In my case Sexy Sporty Dad can join me on a gentle bike ride to the next village’s coffee shop, or have the children when I attend my pilates class or Zumba.


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