Judy's Thoughts....



ED. Race organizers and promoters have been actively exploring ways to increase race attendance and bring renewed enthusiasm to Minnesota's multisport community. We encourage athletes to get involved in this process. Not long ago via email, one of our favorite triathletes, effervescent 79-year-old Judy Ryyken, shared some wise thoughts.


Good morning!


Just a few thoughts…who do race directors want to attract? Why do people go back over and over to favorite races?...


The top athletes love the competition, a well-organized event, and recognition.  What about the middle people – who just have personal goals – want to stay healthy – enjoy the camaraderie of others enjoying outside fun?


The reason the Y Womens’ Tri has been so successful is that every person feels special and awards do not start until the last finisher has crossed the line. In addition, including family members being allowed to cross also makes it a family event and encourages younger people to think about doing it in the future. If all family is welcome, participation becomes a time when families do something together, rather than “oh – mom or dad is gone again doing his/her thing.”

Idea: having family categories makes group participation more likely – grandma/pa-granddaughter/son, mom/dad-daughter/son, partner/partner, etc.


Oldies:  Oldies are important because they are role-models – how to stay healthy as you age is a challenge.

               Oldies pay the same entry as everyone else and should be encouraged with five year age groups to 90 (think

                Bob Powers)  Awards NEVER cost much so lumping people into other age groups is unkind. (I still have a cup

                from Chaska a few years ago after winning the 60 plus when I was over 70 – don’t like it.

                Heart of the Lakes does a great boost by having swim groups in order of entry – this gives oldies a chance to feel

                more a part of the race – rather than the usual last in water, last on bike, last on run and ignored – sometimes                       

                 even hearing awards going on while finishing (oh yes, this happens) Because oldies are out last, they really are

                 not as slow as seems evident by finish time.



Other thoughts:  if a race is a benefit for something local – new equipment for playground, disease contribution etc. more people want to participate (i.e. Race for the Cure, Polar Plunge etc.) A few dollars of each entry can be designated for ……


Nice and fun:  write your age on back of leg so you know who’s in your age group – motivating! (Y Womens’ Tri)

                           It costs nothing and is interesting

                           Fabulous shirt – Heart of the Lakes again wins here – always a wonderful shirt and opportunity to

                           purchase a cool poster by artist (Lifetime shirts are terrible – mediocre design and never fit right – this is

                         not the place to save $$ - just my opinion)

                           Prize drawings for all encourage people to socialize and stick around!!! (one of my worst award moments

                           was Maple Grove a few years ago: by the time they got to my age group, everyone

                           except the presenters had gone home – lots of empty chairs…kind of sad and I have a serious horror

                            story from Lifetime Mpls. two years ago if you ever want to hear it – I will never do it again.


Give useful awards:  one of the best awards was one from the 80’s from USSF Tri at Nokomis – a colorful fanny pack

                            that had Winner – USSF Tri on the back – I still use it.

                             Get in Gear mails out t-shirts to award winners that have the logo and age group winner on the front –

                             to all who place. Proud to wear it.

                             Those of us who have been competing in events for years (starting in 1971 – 160 plus tri’s, run races,

                             Ski races, golf tournaments, etc. have medals and trophies we don’t need or want. High schools by the

                             way are happy to get trophies – they just replace the name plate. Some people really need the medals

                              and trophies to recognize their accomplishment – that’s fine too – but the useful items can also applaud

                               the accomplishment.


Good announcers: This would make it better for participants and spectators alike!!!


Final thoughts:   Please DO NOT have good races the same weekend. I totally LOVE Green Lake (cleanest lake in the

                              State and wonderful course etc. but can’t do back to back races. (few people can or want to)

                              Ask school bands – cheerleaders etc. to be out on the run course (done by Race for the Cure) super fun

                              to hear music and noise along the trail –  a few drummers etc…


Thank you for listening to me – hope this is helpful. No one likes Tri’s more than I do, but some are better than

others and definitely deserve repetition –


I signed up for Heart of Lakes, Womens’ Tri and probably will do Waconia, (did it many years ago and liked it, but the lake is always freezing – I see a wetsuit in my future) and Hopkins Royal – people seem to like it – last year I waited too late to sign up.


For Waconia and Heart, I will still be 79, but on August 1, 2018, I will be 80. (for Womens’ Tri and Hopkins)



Judy the Olde


0 #2 Daniel Kirk 2018-01-09 14:35
As another "oldie" (72 years), I'd like to say that I agree and support Judy's suggestions. I do find it annoying (and discriminating) to have older race age group divisions lumped into "Age 50 and above" or or "60 or above" - rather than every five years. Thanks for the good suggestions Judy.
0 #1 Judy Rykken 2018-01-09 13:55
I have just been lucky to stay healthy. Sometimes health issues pop up that you can't control. Tri's provide a time when it's possible to "play" with others which is more fun than being alone. If you don't want to do all three legs, put together a relay of friends and/or family. Hopefully, tri's will keep happening for a long time yet.

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