The Gay Games have been on my radar since just after the 2006 event, when my friend Dave got a silver medal in the softball tournament at the Chicago games. I wasn’t even doing triathlons in 2006; at that time I was playing softball, so while it was cool to hear of Dave’s success, but it wasn’t a thought for me to compete.
The games take place every four years, and have taken place in Cologne, Chicago, Sydney, Amsterdam, and New York in the past 20 years. When I heard last year that the games were in Ohio, I put it on my calendar. Not a very desirable location in terms of vacation, but Cleveland is close enough for me to participate. In 2018, the games will take place in Paris, making this the last Gay Games in the United States until at least 2022.
A note about travel – Let’s be real: Paris is cool, but I’m not into traveling anywhere else for an Olympic distance race.
Second note about travel – I fully recognize that many folks race Olympic-distance tris and travel for them, and I realize how the statement above might make me sound pretentious or elitist in prioritizing longer distance races for travel, implying – no, flat out saying – that shorter distance races are not worth my time or travel money to go to. But I am saying exactly that. Olympic-distance races typically are not on my list of priorities for travel, unless they are special, like this one.
This is a rare occurrence – I’m not a big fan of traveling to races in general. I’ve only flown to one triathlon which was a 140.6; the rest, I have rented a car or rolled there on my bike. Despite the distance, I decided to drive to Cleveland instead of fly. It just seemed easier, as I’d need a car to get around once I arrived anyway. And I don’t like taking my bike apart (mostly because I don’t like putting it back together). This morning, I folded down the back seats of my rental car, popped the front tire off and put the whole bike in the back. Easy.
I don’t feel particularly connected to the Gay Games in the way some others may, because my struggles with competing are different. The GG folks never answered my questions about the need for TUEs for trans participants (I figured out the answer). The struggles for and with trans participation were highlighted by a conference call I was on with some folks from the Gay Games. I’m interested to see how trans participation is included in this, the most inclusive sporting event in the world. And I’m interested to see if it feels any different for me.
This is going to be a unique race experience for me because it will be my fourth Olympic distance tri, but my first one that is not NYC. No super fast current for this one. The bike is three loops and the run is two loops, so it will be a good course for spectators, but perhaps a confusing or clustered one for racers, particularly on the bike course.
I read a news story today that said the swimming events, triathlon, and running races all had great registrations for this year, meaning it may be a larger field than expected. Early guesses were around 600 people would participate in the event. This weekend is also Nationals in Milwaukee; I’m not sure how much overlap there is between the two sets of racers, but some of the more competitive American racers may be in Wisconsin this weekend instead of here.
I am excited to #GoAllOut on Sunday, and to experience the Opening Ceremony tomorrow.
I’m also excited to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and to eat Waffle House on my ride home.