Last month our teammates Gene Partridge and Diane Haensel went to the 70.3 World Championships in Australia. We followed them as best we could on Facebook but thought it would be great to hear more about their experience not that they've had a chance to mull it over a bit. Maybe their stories will prompt you to look in that direction when looking for the next thing to drop into your bucket list.
Diane: Going to Worlds felt very special because of the qualifying aspect. It's by "invitation" only. Knowing to race with the world's best athletes makes this event very exciting, it gives you this satisfying feeling of accomplishment and honor belonging to a group of amazing people.
Gene: Going to worlds means a lot. It's not automatic that you can just go. You must finish somewhere in the top of the pack, and if you don't then you have to hope for a roll down. I was fortunate enough to get an invite at Coeur d'Alene where I finished second. Of course I excepted the invite, without discussing ahead of time, with my bride. Ultimately she was quite proud of me.
What's the coolest thing about being a World Championship participant?
Diane: The medal is huge and you get a cool towel at the finish line ;-) The coolest thing is to meet so many awesome people and share triathlon war stories. I think Eugene's story of racing with an metal object in his foot is the most mind blowing I've ever heard.
Gene: The coolest experience was in the finish itself. I had a number of challenges throughout the race, including losing my battery pack so was unable to shift the last 20 miles I had a foreign body in my heel a metallic object that I thought was a bone bruise. Despite the setbacks I'm at a reasonable time it was quite proud of my accomplishment
What's your best memory?
Diane: Running for a bit with the oldest participant while an announcer along the course called his name and his 80+ age. The spectators and runners around him went crazy gave him the loudest cheering ever.
Gene: the start is most memorable. We had had stormy weather in high season the days leading up to the race. Diane Haensel and myself are both swim in the open ocean in very rough conditions. We were confident we could make the swim but we're worried about our time. On the day of the race the sun came up. The gun went off in the professionals went out. It was rather amazing that in the midst of this very large crowd of people, of 3000 triathletes, another several thousand spectators on the beach Diane Haensel was able to find me, and we had a moment together to prepare for our start
What's the best phrase you learned in Australia? (please type it with your new Australian accent)
Diane: Good on ya mate...
Gene: "Put down your cell phone". As I was going through customs my daughter Elizabeth who lives in Sicily was in labor she texted a photo of me with her newborn baby well I was going through customs. They confiscated my cell phone but didn't return it as I cleared customs. They wanted to know what was so important about the pictures I was looking. I shared with those customs inspectors photos of my newborn grandson. They were slapping on me me on my back, giving me big handshakes and hugs and we're glad they met me. I was told that my grandson was all right. I was a mess. Very proud grandpa.
Has the experience of 70.3 worlds changed your perspective on triathlon or given you any fresh insights?
Diane: Most impressive observation was that triathlon keeps you young. Many athletes had numbers on their calves that seemed to be very wrong. They looked ten or more years younger. I was inspired by their strength and energy. I hope I can be in such great shape when I am in my 60s and older.
What's your best advice to your teammates who might have the 2017 70.3 World Championships on their goal list?
Diane: Go to the award ceremony of your 70.3 race and stay for the slot allocation. My age group had two slots and I got in finishing 20th!
Gene: Follow your dreams , never give up. If you loose a race and was beaten, tip your cap. I would also say make them work hard for it. And do not give it away. Go RTB