TRI-ing something new

Triathlon Club VCU

By Elizabeth Butterfield

October 12, 2011

Who do you know would be caught half-naked and shaking, about to jump in a pool with 400 other crazy people dressed just like you, then proceed to swim, bike and somehow still run their butts off on an otherwise average Sunday morning? Besides, of course, triathletes.

Slowly, spandex clad athletes laden with sports bags, bikes and bizarrely engineered food supplements filed into the parking lot of the Midlothian YMCA long before dawn on a brisk Sunday morning. Scrambling to get body markings, electronic timing chips and a last minute warm-up, the VCU Triathlon club geared up for their debut as the newest VCU competitive club at the Brickman Richmond Sprint Triathlon last Sunday.

As a small group of dedicated college students readied themselves for the long haul ahead, they had one thought in common: to go hard, and do their school proud.

After a long summer of organizing and inner-school red tape, the Triathlon club was officially recognized as a Competitive Sports club late this September. The group also recently received confirmation of sponsorship by Endorphin Fitness, Richmond’s premier triathlon coaching, training and supply company.

Students Ron Fitch, President, and Paul Phau, Vice President created the club “to provide knowledge, experience, group workouts and coaching to all triathletes and potential triathletes at VCU,” reads the group’s Facebook page. So far, the club has been a huge success, with both its growing membership and demonstrated success at the Sprint on Sunday.

The team made their debut last weekend with quite a bang, with several members finishing on top. Every member who competed placed at least in the top 10 of their age group, with several members making it to the podium during the awards ceremony. “At this rate, we’ll take over the region,” said Vice President Paul Phau.

Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports, and attracts a wide variety of people, making it one of the most accessible and diverse sports around. The VCU Tri Club has a broad mix of athletes, from veterans who have completed multiple triathlons of varying size, to people who have never done any kind of competitive race. “Triathlons are what I would call the biggest self-esteem booster ever. When you finish you think to yourself… wow, I just did that. It’s really an inspiring thing,” said member Lindsay Beckner, who placed 10th in her age group for her second ever triathlon. “You’re increasing your fitness, meeting new people, developing friendships, all while doing something you love. It just doesn’t get better than that,” Beckner said.

The club has big plans for this year and next Spring when it officially starts competing against other colleges to hopefully make it all the way to Collegiate Nationals. These may be big hopes, but club members feel it is more than a possibility. “I would really like for VCU to break out and be the best collegiate triathlon team in the state. At first I thought this would be a huge mountain to climb, but after our performance this weekend, it looks like it might just be a small hill. Relative to JMU and VT we have fewer athletes, but I think we will be consistently faster,” says President Ron Fitch.

If there’s one thing the team is sure of is that anyone can do it if they work hard enough. Triathlon may be challenging, but it’s worth the effort, believes member Alex David, who placed 12th overall and 1st in his age group. “Completing a triathlon, whether a sprint or Ironman, is something that sticks with you because when you put in the hard work and race and see those results, no one can take that away from you; it’s yours forever. It’s definitely bigger than simply swimming, biking and running,” said David.

Racing season may be over, but that’s not stopping the VCU triathletes from training hard, and preparing for the exciting and competitive year ahead.

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