Every year on the first weekend of November, Noosa comes alive with the sound of triathletes. It’s just one week to go until the famous Noosa Tri and the effects are starting to show in and around town. Promo signage, advertisements, road closure signs and fences are popping up, not to mention an increase in the number of lycra clad cyclists on the road and at the local coffee shops. Since its humble beginning me in 1983 The Noosa Tri has brought in millions of dollars into the local economy, not just on race weekend and the days surrounding it, but it also provides international exposure of our little seaside town which is priceless. This year there will be nearly 6000 competitors, most of them bringing at least one spectator/supporter any many bringing their families, that’s a whole lot of extra people in town.
Sounds pretty fantastic for the economy and community doesn’t it? But don’t let them fool you, these triathletes aren’t just going to come here and race, spend their money, take photos and broadcast our beautiful beaches, local produce and world class restaurants to the world. They are going to ride along ‘your’ roads, they might even make you 2.5 seconds late to work if you give way to them on a roundabout. They are going to buy all the Epsom salts and voltaren tablets from your pharmacy, leaving none left for you. They are going to parade around the streets either shirtless or in their Ironman finishers shirts and race visors, making you feel like you need to workout. They are going to crowd the supermarkets and fill the carparks and take your favourite table at the coffee shop. The worst part is, if they like it here they might come back and do it all again next year.
Needless to say there is an underlying tone of sarcasm in my voice, these views are not my own, I love race week. I work in Hastings St, the location of most of Noosa’s accommodation, it is also where the race expo, race registration/checkin, transitions and the start/finish line are. The vibe of Hasting’s street in race week is phenomenal, the sun is shining, the streets are busy, the cafes are packed, the retailers are bustling and the atmosphere is great. Yet there are always the complainers, even though they live in a place where tourism is the main industry keeping the area alive, they are momentarily inconvenienced by the event and therefore take a disliking to triathletes.
Having experienced both sides of the equation (being the visitor in a foreign city and living in the host town), in some ways I can see where the complainers are coming from, there are aspects of thousands of people impeding on your normal life that may be irritating. However if the event was something you were interested in such as a concert or a food & wine festival would you dislike musicians or stop drinking wine because of it? I wouldn’t… But then again not much is going to stop me from drinking wine. 😉
My suggestion would be that if you are a local in Noosa or somewhere else that hosts triathlons, why not volunteer to hand out water at an aid station, or sit on your front lawn and cheer on the athletes going past, or head down to the finish line and watch the elation on people’s faces as they cross it. Even if you have no knowledge about the sport my bet is that you will enjoy it more than you expect any may even be inspired to participate next year.
When I did Ironman Cozumel in November last year, the bike course took us through the local villages, there were children and adults lining the streets all day cheering enthusiastically for us in Spanish. I got the giggles as I thought they were saying “Go animal” or “You’re an animal” but I found out later that “animo” means spirits, and they were most likely yelling “keep your spirits up” or “¡ánimo” which means “come on, go for it.” (read about IM Cozumel in the race reports page). Anyway I was racing in a foreign country alone, and apart from a couple of Aussies I had met the day before, I didn’t know anyone on the course. So although they were complete strangers, having people cheering you on when you’re going through hell makes it that bit more bearable and was one of the highlights of my day.
If you are a visitor rolling into town for a race don’t forget to be mindful of the locals. Your life might revolve around the race, but theirs probably does not. Have some manners, obey the road rules, don’t litter, thank the volunteers and high five the kids lining the streets cheering- you will make their day. If you’re lucky enough to be coming to Noosa for the Tri next weekend… Welcome, welcome, welcome! Good luck if you’re racing and thank you if your supporting/cheering. I hope you enjoy everything this beautiful place has to offer, keep an eye out for my post next week about the ‘Best Of’s’ in Noosa to make your trip even easier to plan.
Until next time, ¡ánimo