Coaching A Paratriathlon Camp

Coaching A Paratriathlon Camp

I recently I got my first real introduction into paratriathlon.

Cami Stock of Wild Blue Racing asked me to be her assistant for a couple days at the USA Paratriathlon military camp. Active or former military were invited to this skills camp where we focused on the basics of triathlon, and the camp would finish with them racing in the Rocky Mountain State Games triathlon. The participants all had some level of triathlon experience, but it varied quite a bit. Some even had triathlon experience before their injury.

Day 1:
This two day camp started with a brief introduction and then we didn’t waste much time before getting them into the pool for a technique session. After over an hour of drills and seeing great improvement, we went back to the sports office at Memorial park and talked triathlon basics before lunch.
Some perspective – for all the triathletes who dislike single arm swimming drills, imagine if that was the only way you could swim.
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After lunch we had our first bike session, and for this we had a few extra volunteers so that everyone could ride with a partner. We reviewed quick safety checks and then worked on some cornering skills, which will be important on the State Games course.  The first lap of the course was pretty mellow, but they then decided to tear it up on the second lap and being the sweep I didn’t realize that was the plan so I had to really put the hammer down to catch up! One hadn’t been on a bike in quite a while, but you’d never know!

My power data from riding the state games course twice. Pretty clear where we rode the second loop of the course and they gang hammered it!

The day finished in the afternoon after the ride. Since everyone will be racing on Saturday, we didn’t want to wear them out!

Day Two:
We were starting with a brick, but first I had to pick up Howie from his hotel. He had some travel troubles due to airlines thinking they couldn’t accommodate his hand cycle except on certain planes. Turns out it indeed fit on a smaller plane, but he didn’t get in until Thursday night and had initially planned to arrive on Wednesday. Cami, Dave and I met him in the hotel where we picked up his racing chair and hand cycle, which was a car loading adventure in itself.

More perspective – Traveling with a bike in a case is often a pain, but what about traveling with a hand cycle, a racing wheel chair while you are in a wheelchair.

Today we did a few bike/run transitions so they could practice these and get familiar with the race course. Then we were fortunate to get the group into open water at the Prospect Lake swim beach, which was probably a really valuable session to work on sighting and one athlete was new to being in a wetsuit.

After the swim Amanda (our USA Triathlon support) brought us lunch and we had a relaxing final Q&A session in the Memorial Park beach house before everyone left for the day to rest up for the morning’s race.

 

Open Water Swim Practice

Race Day:

Show time! I believe this was the first time that the State Games had a paratriathlon division. I had signed up to volunteer, but so I was there early enough to see some of them before I had to head to my assigned location. I was stationed on the bike course where the laps merge with the athletes coming out of transition, so it was perfect for me to cheer for everyone and see them several times.

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All the athletes had great races. Some had to work through some challenges, but the smiles on their faces when it was all said and done made us really, really happy.

Some final comments.  I had a really fantastic time, as did everyone involved with the camp. Great athletes, great spirits, and some new perspectives on challenges in sport and in life.

 

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Nicole Odell

nicole@neoendurancesports.com

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