In 2010 at the Ironman World Championship Mirinda Carfrae won setting a new course record. In 2009 she’d set a new marathon record for the course. In 2009 she lost the Ironman World Championship to Chrissie Wellington. In 2010 Wellington didn’t race.
During an interview Carfrae was asked whether her 2010 victory seemed less meaningful because Wellington hadn’t raced. She replied, “You can only race against those who show up.”
Recently, I won a State field championship. I knew whom I was shooting against having competed against them a number of times. Some of the guys I’d shot against in the past showed up, some didn’t.
Overall, the event was not well attended and for some champions they were alone in their division. “You can only shoot against those who show up.”
A friend of mine just won a State championship. He was solo in his division. He shot well and deserved the win compared to past scores. He loves to shoot. Seemingly the shooting is more important than the winning. He often doesn’t stick around for his award after a tournament. He pretty much shoots then hits the road before the awards ceremony. He never brags about his victories. It is more likely he’d complain we’d not performed as well as he’d hoped. The tournament isn’t a matter of winning, it is a matter of shooting.
Competing in a tournament where you are the only athlete in your class has got to be a let down. Nevertheless, you compete by doing your best; next time you might not be alone in the field.
In my division the field is never empty in my experience. In fact, if doesn’t matter if I’m competing in archery, running, cycling, duathlon or triathlons. There are always others who have shown up to win. There is always someone else to push. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.
There’s also someone that says, “We’ll you had fun.” If I earned a second or third, it really wasn’t as much fun as a first. Overall, I have not won more times than I have won. Winner is hard.
In general, I compete to better my results. (And to win) That can be done simply by shooting in the backyard. There are incredible archers that won’t compete because they refuse to pay the price to play.
I had a friend, a cyclist, who in his 60s could train with and do well against younger athletes of a national and international caliber. I asked him why he didn’t race. He said, “I don’t have time for that.” Sadly, this athlete expired in his 80s. He was still riding his bike days before he kicked the bucket. His position on not having time for a ‘race’ makes a bit of sense to me now that I’m in my 60s. Racing is fun, but it is expensive and takes a lot of time.
Archery is expensive. The major tournaments can be very pricey. Archery, however, costs a lot less than a triathlon. Archery prices for competitions are about the same as running events. Some of the local events cost about the same as a 5K. The bigger events cost about the same as a marathon. Regional or State level tournaments are in the ballpark of a 10K or half-marathon.
On the other hand I know athletes new to a sport competing where frequently contests have low turn outs for minor events. They, the new folks, have won such contests. Some, when they do win, they pronounce themselves heroes. Sure they’re proud of their victory. But, no one else showed up. Worse their results are often made available for everyone to admire. Seriously, too often such data should be held in silence.
There are, too, athletes that fall way short of the prize and should be celebrated. A friend recently lost at the IBO World Championship. He didn’t even make the top 10. However, his performance was so close. If you are a competitive athlete you know that a few points or a few tenths of a second can be the difference between 1stand 10th. Once, at a National Championship I ended up in 8th place, less than a second out of first place.
In the case of the IBO archer he was proud and shared his results. They were impressive. There was no braggadocio. I was proud for him and felt his happiness. There was nothing hollow about it.
Then, there’s the fellow who won an archery target tournament where he was the single shooter who’d earned a low score. He was proud and even a little arrogant. His attitude and smug conceit were appalling.
You can only compete against those who show up in an athletic event. When it comes down to it you can only improve yourself. Should you win when there isn’t any one to compete against there’s no need to get a swollen head. If you lose in a great field and perform well congratulations are in order.
In sanctioned events where you end up the only person in your division know this – records can still be broken. Don’t compete half assed knowing you’ve got that $2.00 medal in the bag. Perform to win. Everyday that winning attitude will pay dividends.
In 2011 Carfrae and Wellington went head to head at the Ironman World Championship. Wellington won.