Monday, September 22, 2008

Best Conditioned

It's not just what do, but how you do it.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of again serving on my Dad's endurance riding support crew - and this year I realized that triathletes could learn a lot from this sport.

All horses that cross the finish line must be "deemed fit to continue" in order to score an official completion. If your horse is in bad shape at the end of the ride, none of it counts. The rider who knows his horse best and paces most effectively wins over the one goes all out all the time.

In addition, the top 10 finishing horses are each evaluated by the onsite vet and one as chosen as Best Conditioned. According to the American Endurance Riding Conference "the Best Condition award is earned by the horse judged by the veterinary team to have finished in the best condition, based on a score which is derived from a combination of considerations, including riding time, weight carried, and physical state." This is the most coveted prize.

What if triathlon had such a award? What would our Best Conditioned be? Sure, it could be something physiological, like lowest resting heart. But what if instead, we put the concept of personal best in context. What if we honored the athlete who had balanced her training and her family most effectively? The one who did the most good for others through the sport? The one who had the least expensive gear and still finished strong?

During November's race, while I strive valiantly to meet my goals, I'm also going to remember the Endurance Riding motto that "To Finish is To Win."