Triathlon – the discipline of God’s Madmen!

Have you seen the Omaha Beach assault scene in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan? It was a blood bath. When I experienced for the first time the start of an Ironman swimming contest with other 1500 similar madmen, the images from the film flashed before my eyes. The only thing which made it bearable was the fact that nobody was shooting (apart from the man with the starting pistol). My heart was pounding 170 beats per minute, and all I could hear was the water surging under the mass attack of hundreds of foam-clad homonoids. The organisers added an additional dose of adrenalin by playing U2’s Beautiful Day. For me, this was an incredible moment of sport-related male euphoria – I finally realised the priceless value of the daily thrashing of water in the pool for an entire year, shaking with cold at 5 a.m. while cycling in the dark, or peeling off my toe nails after completing a mountain running challenge. I know, I know, I love a good narrative, but have you participated in anything of this type? Try it and you will see how well this triathlon drug tastes!

I am glad that my adventure with this discipline was so challenging and arduous at the beginning. I will remember my first half-distance competition in Susz for a very long time – where I had to travel over 30 km from the railway station with a massive bag of equipment on my back, where I had to sleep on the floor (hungry!) in a school gym and where I began my swimming stage of the race nearly naked and having received a robust kick in the nose. You do get a dose of triathlon humility when cycling next to a VIP who is cruising on a racing bike with an electronic gear-shifting system and a carbon clip-on aero bar which weighed as little as a chocolate bar stuck with sticky tape to the frame of my veteran bicycle. I fell head over heels in love with this discipline. Triathlon is unbelievably demanding and not a game for softies and nincompoops. One of the companies uses the advertising slogan: “Welcome to the wolf pack!” Completing an Ironman race makes a person believe that THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES WHICH WE CANNOT CROSS. After a race where I swim 3.8 km, cycle 180 km and run an additional 42 km I am confident that when I have to face problems I would be able to face them like a tank driving through a golf course. This actually works! Every person who crosses the finish line becomes a warrior for life – and for this small group of people these words: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE do not exist. There is another triathlon custom which has a very positive meaning for me as a human. If only it was incorporated into everyday life... What is it? The Hour of the Heroes. This is the last hour before the triathlon route closes and the time limit ends. Usually before midnight. At that time, all race participants come back to the finish line. Some with times worthy of cyborgs, but also amateurs which were happy to reach the finish line in one piece. They all clap and cheer to support the weakest participants. Those who often stagger across the finish line, cross it on all fours, filthy in their own excrement, dripping with sweat mixed with blood from various skin abrasions. Still, their eyes shine with happiness (sic!), and tears of joy from being able to do something incredible. My friend pointed them out to me with coach-like respect: “See Piotr ... The God’s Madmen are coming”. I am sure that without such moments My Male World would not exist. A world which is full of extreme challenges but also full of recognition of those who are weaker. In addition to absolute conviction that our bodies are only an imperfect addition to something much bigger and immeasurable...