Cycling, Swimming and Running for Relief
A couple of my co-workers and I just finished our first triathlon relay. We did so while raising awareness — and funds — for International Medical Corps.
By Caitlin Bartkus, Senior Assistant, Resource Development, International Medical Corps
As a runner and cyclist, I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon, but I just can’t swim. So when I found out that my co-worker Jessica was a swimmer, I started thinking about how fun it would be to do a triathlon relay. We talked about it off and on for a little while, until we found our third teammate — our co-worker Katharina.
After some quick discussion, it was settled. Jessica would swim, I would bike and Katharina would run. The team Splash, Flash and Dash was born!
Next step: pick a triathlon. We wanted to find a course that wasn’t too easy or too hard, wasn’t too short or too long — one that was just right. An Ironman-length triathlon was definitely out of the question, although we did consider a half-Ironman for about 30 seconds. Then we found the Goldilocks course we’d been looking for: the Santa Barbara Triathlon. The scenic ‘long course’ option was somewhere between an Olympic distance and a half-Ironman, with a 1-mile swim, 34-mile ride and 10-mile run. It was close enough for family and friends to come cheer us on, and the scheduling of the triathlon gave us plenty of time to train.
It was always a given that we would use our participation in the Santa Barbara Triathlon as a fundraising opportunity. As International Medical Corps staff members, we wanted our experience to be more than just an athletic endeavor. We wanted to raise awareness, and funds, for an organization whose mission we are each so passionate about.
Employment status aside, leveraging an event like this to spread the word and raise money for a worthy cause is a no-brainer.
What better way is there to get your co-workers, friends and family excited for something you’re passionate about than to commit to doing something everyone else thinks is crazy? Signing up for a triathlon relay tells people that you are determined, want a good excuse to eat everything in sight and are probably a bit of a fitness freak. Signing up for a triathlon relay and fundraising for an amazing organization communicates just how much you believe in the cause.
And knowing why you’re putting yourself through the cold ocean swims, hilly bike rides and long training runs is the best motivation. No matter how much I enjoy cycling, there are always days when I simply don’t want to go for a ride, days when I’d rather do anything else. But if it’s not just about you, it’s so much easier to work through those times.
I realized I had a choice: months and months of training could feel like a chore, or it could be a constant reminder of the people you are helping. For me, the choice was easy.
Water is the best friend of an endurance athlete. I can’t run or bike long distances without it, and for me it’s a simple thing — just turn on the faucet, fill up a cup. But for the 783 million people who lack access to safe drinking water, there’s nothing simple about it. Nearly 900 children under five die every day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. We did this for them.
I find it easy to lose sight of just how fortunate I am to have grown up in an environment where I’ve never had to worry about having enough food to eat. I’ve never been forced from my home by wars or natural disasters. And I’ve never had to be concerned about diseases like cholera and Ebola. But unfortunately, that is the reality for countless people around the world. We did this for them.
We did this for all of the communities where International Medical Corps is providing healthcare and hope.
For 35 years — longer than each of the three of us have been alive! — International Medical Corps has been providing healthcare and training to communities around the world suffering from natural disaster, disease and conflict. From the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Yemen, to the hunger crises in Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Nigeria, to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, International Medical Corps in on the ground, providing critical medical services and building self-reliance through training, in difficult and often dangerous conditions.
When you think about everything International Medical Corps’ teams do every day, our triathlon relay pales in comparison. But it was one way we could make an impact.
Interested in making an impact like Katharina, Caitlin and Jessica? Whether it’s stair climbing or mountain climbing, hiking a trail or biking across the country, you can use any athletic challenge to raise funds for International Medical Corps. Ready to sweat? Start fundraising here.
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