I saw this picture on a triathlon website I frequent often and it confirmed a story I heard over the weekend while volunteering at Ironman Florida. You hear grandiose stories all the time and wonder if they're true. Like the one about the guy who supposedly forgot to put anything on under his wetsuit, much to the shock and horror of both he and the wetsuit peeler! Some of the stories are folklore and some, unfortunately, turn out to be true, like the one about this guy in the photo at the left.
You'll notice in his left hand are a pair of fins. Some will tell you they think wetsuits shouldn't be worn because they provide too much of an advantage. Wetsuits help prevent hypothermia. They also help with buoyancy by keeping the hips and lower body on top of the water helping prevent drag increasing swim speed and efficiency. Wetsuits are more of an advantage for more challenged swimmers, like me, but they are completely legal according to the rules depending on water temperature.
However, there is no question as to the legality of fins. They are illegal. As are webbed gloves. As are motorized bicycles. As are MP3 players. As is doing one loop on a two loop run. It's about integrity and character. Apparently absent from this guys make-up. He sold his integrity and character for a few minutes faster on his swim time. I wonder if it was worth it to him. It's akin to getting a couple dollars too much change at a quick stop....and keeping it. It's not the most egregious of acts, but very revealing at the same time.
The spirit of triathlon is that it's an individual sport. You're competing with yourself to do the best you can. You push yourself. You challenge yourself. At mile 96 on the bike your inner voice screams, "KEEP GOING" even though your body's telling you to stop. This guy cheated himself in the race within himself.
I don't condone but understand top professional athletes taking performance enhancing drugs in hopes of gaining that edge. It's certainly cheating but I understand the reasons. There's a lot on the line for them financially and sometimes it's the difference between making it or not. Again, I don't condone or approve...just understand. I don't understand this guys logic. I don't see a Kona qualifier or a professional triathlete here. I see a guy who entered an Ironman race in hopes of achieving an unbelievable feat....swimming 2.4 miles, riding a bike 112 miles and running a marathon....in one day...in hopes of being able to call himself an Ironman the rest of his life!
Justice would be served if this guy was disqualified. I don't know if he was or not. But then again, as I think about it, it doesn't really matter because for the rest of his life he'll know that he cheated. In this day and time of high priced everything the price of his integrity and character was dirt cheap. It was on sale. Bargain basement prices. A few minutes faster on his swim time. I wonder if it was worth it for him?