30 Years, 100+ Triathlons, It’s All About the Journey

Years ago USAT (USA Triathlon), started something called the Century Club, which was for athletes that had completed some multiple of 100 triathlons. To qualify for this Club you needed to be able to document (in some form), the races you have completed, send it to them, and after they vetted your list they would add you to the appropriate group, 100, 200, 300, etc., races. When they started this I had maybe 80 races to my credit and thought it wouldn’t take much longer before I would hit 100. Unfortunately shortly thereafter I developed an irregular heartbeat (AFIB), I changed where I worked (with a hour+ longer commute), and began working nine hour days. My training and racing had to take a back seat while I dealt with all the changes, so it took a few years longer than I expected to reach 100 races, but after 30 years of racing I finally made it.

Starting 2018 I knew that if I finished the races I planned on doing I would reach my goal of 100 by the end of the year. While talking to my friends and training partners about this Club I learned that two of them had done well over 200 races while a third was over 300! Wow, I was happy to be approaching 100 races and suddenly it didn’t seem like a whole lot of races, ya know?

To their credit each of these athletes started racing before me, did a lot of races early on, and have mostly stayed in the sport. Today’s athletes might not realize it, but in the early days of triathlon, the late 1970’s through the early 1990’s, there were a lot of smaller local races (especially in southern California), that would host monthly races throughout the triathlon season. If you were so inclined you could easily race 10-20 times a year, especially as the races were cheap, not like today’s events where people are limiting the number of races because of the high cost of entering.

In contrast, the first 5-6 years that I raced I only did 2-3 races a year and I did not train much other than ride my bike in the off-season. When I started getting serious and began racing “long course races” I typically raced 4-5 races a year, so again, nothing like what my friends had done or others in the USAT Century Club (and if you’re interested the current list is here, even though USAT has stopped funding, i.e., stopped updating it : hhttps://www.teamusa.org/USA-Triathlon/Membership-Services/Member-Recognition/Deca-and-Century-Club/Century-Club ), where you’ll see the following results:

Century Club
# of Races 
# of People
     100
     168
     200
       36
     300
       11
     400
         1
     500
         3
     600
         1
   Total
     220

Now I’ve been accused of being obsessed with this sport from time to time, but 400-600+ races? I can only imagine that the handful of athletes with 300+ races to their credit did a lot more shorter races early on and at times were only “training through” them, meaning they were not peaked and tapered for an “A” race, and that’s fine. I rarely did any triathlons that I wasn’t tapering for, preferring quality over quantity, while also competing in 8-10 local running races and a handful of open water swims or swim/runs, which I would be “training through”, because I could and because I enjoy competing in each of these other sports.

As to how I even knew how many races I did, as an engineer by trade we love spreadsheets, so having started racing pre-internet the race results would be mailed to you, weeks or months later. I would save these results and pull them out years later to see how I did if I was going back to a particular race. At some point I must have decided there has to be a better way, and voila, I started a spreadsheet to track them, easy as that.

In the end, whether you think it’s a big deal or not to have finished 100+ races, for me, getting to 100 was never part of why I raced triathlons. But having completed that many races (and looking forward to racing in the future, but surely not another 100), it is the people I train with, the people I race against, the Race Directors, the volunteers, the life guards, etc., that I am proud to be associated with and to whom I hope to continue the relationship and to see where the journey continues to take all of us.

That is what makes racing triathlons special for me now, getting to the starting line and finishing the race, reaching whatever goal I set, even if it means just finishing if the training just wasn’t there liked I had hoped. Well that and seeing other members of my local triathlon community, the newbies, and familiar faces I see and talk to at the races, as we share our enthusiasm for the sport.

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2 thoughts on “30 Years, 100+ Triathlons, It’s All About the Journey

  1. My friend, Ken Hale, is the only person over 600. He has had year doing like 50 races. They have all not been short. I am trying to get to 200 before I am done, am around 175 now.

    • 50 races a year, that’s a serious commitment! Assuming there are not 50 local races that’s a lot of traveling, a lot of time off from work maybe and time away from friends and family. Unless of course you’re self-employed and your family tags along as your support team. I’m enjoying unfocused training, signing up for the occasional race, and still being able to race. Good luck on reaching 200 races, enjoy the journey.

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