Dear person who stole my triathlon bag

July 18, 2015

Dear person who stole my triathlon bag,

I’m naive enough to believe that all people are inherently good, or at minimum, act rationally. So it bewilders me when petty thefts like the one this morning occur.

Following a common ritual, I hung my triathlon bag with sandals on a tree before changing into my bike shoes for a morning ride. The tree sits in the middle of nowhere in the south of France on the edge of a vineyard whose delightful owner is happy to accommodate me.

Upon returning some hours later, I notice that my bag had disappeared. It didn’t simply fall off the tree; it was nowhere in sight. The only explanation is that somebody snatched it. I won’t make mountains out of mole hills, as this presented a minor inconvenience at worst. It merely forced me to walk in socks along the gravel trail back home with my bike on my shoulder. All I lost was an old pair of sandals and a bag.

Who would want a ratty old pair of athlete’s foot impregnated speedo sandals in this part of France confounds me. But hey, if you really want them, by all means feel free to keep them.

But the triathlon bag in which the sandals were stashed has sentimental value to me. I earned that bag after a grueling olympic distance triathlon in Marseille in 2013. Some triathlons are forgettable, whereas others offer priceless memories. Marseille 2013 ranks at the top of my list.


My total race time in Marseille was the longest ever for me at that distance. Still, it was the performance for which I am most proud. Conditions were brutal that day. Strong winds created a choppy Mediterranean coastline with difficult visibility on the sea swim. The bike course starts with a steep, unrelenting climb, until it plateaus misleadingly only to carry into an even steeper hill. Apparently the winding cliffside road offers stunning panoramic views of the sea. I wouldn’t know, as all I recall seeing was hot pavement through the sweat in my eyes. Although the 10k run was relatively flat, the 39-degree late morning heat made me delusional. I saw angels in my hallucinations and remember wondering how there could be angels in hell. By a miracle I managed to cross the finish line upright. Others weren’t so lucky and kept the paramedics on overtime.

Belgian pro Frederik van Lierde won the race that day, and later went on to win the Ironman championship in Kona a few months after. Better yet, my Ironman parents also both competed that day. It was the last triathlon all three of us did together.

The transition bag I collected at that race reminds me of the satisfyingly painful ordeal. Sure, the memories remain in my head, but I really liked that bag.

Please give it back,


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posted in triathlon by mark bivens

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