Namib Race Blogs 2021

Robert Ripley
Du or do not, there is no tri

10 July 2021 10:27 pm (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time(US & Canada); Tijuana

Du or do not.  There is no tri.


Had my first race of 2021 this weekend.  It was listed as an Olympic Distance Duathlon.  (Note that, to my knowledge, there has never been a Duathlon at the Olympics, there is a Biathlon, but that involves shooting and skiing).  This race started with a 10km run, followed by a 40km bike, concluding with a 5km run.  Duathlons are often thrown in with triathlons to eke out a little more participation (revenue).  Basically, a duathlon is a triathlon for those of us who don’t swim.


As you may remember, I grew up in Alaska.  In Alaska, swimming is what you do with your last 3 minutes, should you be unfortunate enough to fall into the water.


Actually, I have done one triathlon.  It was the early 80s.  I was a pretty good runner.  I was in pretty good shape.  I had a bicycle.  I had completed the mile swim at boy scout camp.  How hard could it be.  Right?  (I didn’t have a wetsuit, or even bike shorts for that matter). My entire swim training regimen amounted to jumping in a lake and swimming 100 meters out to the dock.  And back.  Once.  Race day came and I ran quickly down the beach and jumped in the water.  And then 200 people crawled over my back, each pausing briefly to hold my head under the water.  Sure that I was going to drown, I floundered to the turn-around and clung to the gunwale of a boat for dear life.  The woman in the boat told me that this wasn’t allowed.  I believe my response was something like:  gurgle, gasp, expletive, splash, gasp, do you, gurgle, gasp, expletive, want to watch me expletive drown?  Surprisingly, I wasn’t disqualified, and I didn’t finish dead last.  I did get a tee shirt, a sinus infection, and a nasty saddle sore for my efforts.  Now I own bike shorts.  But not a wetsuit.


But I digress.  


Duathlons have been sort of my athletic thing for the last few years.  The USA Triathlon Duathon National Championships came to our town of Bend in 2016.  I said to myself, Hmmm, what do you need to do to qualify for the  National Championships?  It turns out that all I needed to do was pay the entry fee and join USAT.  Done.  In 2016,  with a moderate amount of disorganized training (a little riding, a little running, what more would you need?), I managed to place 5th in my age group.  Ego-Boost!  A sport obscure enough such that a mediocre runner and a mediocre biker is near the podium at Nationals.  So, naturally, I got myself a coach and started training in earnest for the 2017 Nationals.  And I won my age group.  (A monster is born)


My finishes at Nationals qualified me for the International Triathlon Union World Duathlon Championships.  (I can hear you saying, the ITU What?!?).  And being on Team USA for the Worlds means that you need to buy lycra with your name on the butt.


(Side note:  a spectator at the 2017 Worlds in Penticton Canada yelled at me, “you misspelled ripply!”  Really, do these shorts make my butt look ripply?)



Since then I’ve been to 3 ITU World Duathlon Championships:  2 standard distance (which is the same as Olympic Distance), and once at the long distance (10km run, 150km bike, 30km run).  I’ve managed to finish just off the podium each time.  I’m hoping that since I recently “aged up” into a new age group, I can finally make the podium at worlds.  Unfortunately, this pandemic thing, not to mention all my training for Atacama, has kept me out of the rarified Duathlon atmosphere these past 2 years.


So. This weekend’s race?  I won.  Both my age group and overall.  I stood on the podium with a 31 yr old and a 24 yr old.  Which means that if you added their years together they still wouldn’t have been in my age group.  They both mentioned how fast my bike was.  (I do have a very fast bike, at my age you have to buy as much speed as you can, but somebody still has to pedal the damn thing!). 


It should be noted that while there were dozens of competitors in the duathlons this weekend, there were hundreds of competitors in the triathlons.  Can I be faulted for picking the event with fewer racers, I think not.


Thankfulness note:  Not only am I thankful that I’ve found an obscure event to be competitive at, I am thankful to be out and racing again.  I am thankful for the vaccines that have made this possible.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Sarah Horne

Posted On: 12 Jul 2021 08:38 am

Congratulations Rob! You clearly have a very natural talent for the sport and don't need to worry about being out of the scene for a while - hope the sun is still shining in Oregon!

Sam F

Posted On: 12 Jul 2021 05:43 am

WOW, that's amazing Rob! Don't listen to those young whipper snappers - a win is a win! And I think we should make everyone have their name tatooed on their butt in the desert! ;)