THE GIRLS ARE ALL RIGHT

There once was a time in our athletic career when we felt thrilled to be just on the race course. There we were, toe to toe with people who just wanted to compete and be strong and learn how to be stronger than they’d ever been before in their Iives. For awhile there, that was all that really mattered.

But then we competed in our first women-only triathlon. And we Got It.

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It was the Danskin Women’s Triathlon, and we would go on to do three more of the races, in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and once, because we got a wild hair, in Denver, Colorado. What was it about these races that was so appealing to us, even as we grew stronger and sprint triathlons (half-mile swim; 12-mile bike; 3.1-mile run) became old hat? What was this “it” that took us so long to appreciate?

We’ll tell you. It’s not about the camaraderie. It’s not about supporting your sisters, or the power you might get from listening to hundreds of screaming women cheer each other on over the finish line. It is most defintely not about the shocking amount of pink we saw everywhere.

It’s about where, as women, we’ve been. For a long time, many sports would have been considered inappropriate for women to do. We knew that there were women out there who simply weren’t encouraged to run, mountain-bike, adventure-race, even swim–but we did it anyway. And we got a little bit tired of hearing other women of all shapes and sizes say to us, “Oh, wow. I could never do that.”

We struggled to find the language to tell them, “Yes, you can. And you should, if that’s what you want to do.”

And then we stumbled upon the women-only races, and we were amazed. Here are women from all walks of life, hundreds of women who have said to themselves, “I can,” and here they are, cheering each other on to strong finishes, weak finishes, finishes that involved limping or throwing up or crying–but they will all finish. What panache!

And perhaps most important of all, we know that these women will go on to race in competitions that are co-ed. They will go toe-to-toe with men and other women. And then they, too will say to another woman, “Yes, you should.”

This is what we get out of women-only races. And it’s why we’re putting our resources behind the Danskin Women’s Triathlon in Sandy Hook, NJ this coming Sunday.

Good luck, ladies. We’ll be there when you cross the line.

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