Pay It Forward – My 2012 London Triathlon (part 1)

As many people know already, Sunday’s London Triathlon just was not my day at the races.  The cold water (14C) followed by a cold ride (about 10C / 50F by the time I was on the bike) in the wind and rain meant that by the end of the ride, my body was frozen.  I gave it some time, decided to see what would happen on the run, but by about 1km into the run decided to call it quits.  I was hypothermic and could not warm up.

I knew that things were going poorly by the second lap of the bike, at about mile 15 or so (out of 24 miles).  I told myself the test of whether or not it was all going south would be my third climb up Limehouse Link.  I couldn’t get warm on the uphill, my heart rate hardly rose at all.  When I reached the top of the hill, for the third time that morning I asked a rider on the side of the road if everything was okay.  He shouted “no” and I replied “I’ll pull over”.

I had double of everything in my under saddle bag, and ESPECIALLY when a race isn’t going to plan, I figured why not stop to help someone else HAVE a race.  I realised when I pulled over that I was in trouble – I couldn’t move my hands.  I said to the guy “open my saddle bag, take what you need” – I gave him tire leveres, a CO2 canister, an inner tube, and the canister adapter.  I remarked that my race was probably over due to hypothermia, but I hoped he could continue his.  I climbed back on my bike, hoping and trying to get warm.  But it wasn’t to be.

He passed me somewhere around mile 20 I think, shouting thank you.  I caught his number – 6987 – and was planning to look up his results.  But on Monday morning I checked my email to find this…

I asked his permission to reprint the email.  It was seriously the nicest medicine for a bruised ego from my first ever DNF – did not finish.

Hi Donna,

I hope you don’t mind but i did a quick number search on the London Tri results site and found your name and a consequent quick google took me to your beatinglimitations blog.  It was difficult to get across in the wind and rain how grateful I was so I just wanted to say thank you properly for helping me during the triathlon yesterday by giving me an inner tube, levers, canister and adaptor.

I had been training with a couple of friends for 8 months solely for this event yesterday with the aim of breaking the three hour barrier.  When I got that puncture about 5 miles into the bike I could of cried, and nearly did!  But then you came past, stopped your race and selflessly gave me all the bits I needed to get going again.  I think I lost about 10 minutes or so with the puncture and by the end my two friends and myself all crossed the line within about 3 minutes of each other, and ALL of us breaking three hours with times between 2.57 and 2.59!!  Without your kindness I wouldn’t of even completed the race and had the chance of achieving our goal.  You could of got a puncture yourself later on but you still gave up your spares to help.  I have learned my lesson and will now carry spares with me, if not for me then I will be able to help someone like you did, you stopping made my weekend and the last 8 months of hard work worth every second.

As a just a small token of my gratitude I have made a donation through the links on your blog to the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association.

Thank you once again and good luck with all your future events and fund raising efforts.

Matt Bainbridge

To me it goes to show – paying it forward is seriously the only way to go.

On that note, I’m still searching for the South African who did the noon wave with me, who is doing Ironman 70.3 UK next year, and who is a friend of the UK 2XU distributor and a kind of “Brand Ambassador” in the UK (I am for the US side of 2XU so we chatted about this).  I need to thank him for the mylar blanket he gave me in transition.  I really think that blanket saved me from visiting the hospital.  I was *that* cold.  So if you are friends with him, please can you pass along my desire to get in touch?

3 responses to “Pay It Forward – My 2012 London Triathlon (part 1)”

  1. I am sorry to hear about the DNF—what crazy conditions! I think you earned some major karma points and I love the wonderful story. I was once helped on a trail by a guy who was so disgusted by my lack of supplies (I had a spare tube but not a CO2 cartridge) and inability to help myself, and he helped me anyway as awesome triathletes do. I vowed to help someone else some day and have just been waiting for the chance. You should be super proud of your race in spite of the DNF!

  2. Donna, I am so sorry the race was not to be.  You made the right decision though.  ButI am writing to say that I love the story of paying it forward.  It says so much about what triathletes are like.  It is such an incredible coomunity.

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