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My Story
Race Safely
By Kathy Felix
I love the morning of triathlons. My preparation is done; I am ready physically and mentally; my equipment is set and I drink in the excitement, the tension and the joy of being a triathlete.


In September, I was at Age Group Nationals in Tuscaloosa. Early on the morning of race day the transition area was dark and crowded with athletes, bikes, headlamps and enthusiasm. I watched the huge video screen play scenes from previous races, the music blasted and my heart raced, I was so ready... but I was on the wrong side of the transition fence. I could not enter to share the start, to wish a great race to my fellow age-groupers, to leap in the water and defend my second-place finish from last year and earn a spot for Beijing. This year I was a spectator. This year I am learning to walk on a titanium hip. This year my run is a series of hops and this year I long each day for the joy of the racing and training that have been my daily focus for the past 12 years.


Last September, I was part of Team USA in Surfers Paradise, Australia. It was my fifth Worlds. Race day morning was balmy and beautiful. The swim was great. My bike was going well. I was approaching the last turn around on the course when I looked to my right and saw a young man almost touching me. I heard him yell “What are you doing matie!?” to the young man passing me, illegally. I was hit from behind by this pack of young men. The resulting crash left me unconscious.


In the fall, my femur was shoved through my hip and pelvis and into my abdomen. I hit my head so hard that my helmet “saved my life,” according to a doctor.


The Gold Coast hospital pulled my femur out of my abdomen and put it in traction to keep it in place. In the process of doing so, a portion of my intestines was pulled out with my femur and 40 centimeters had to be removed. Six days later, I was transferred to the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane where multiple screws were put into my hip and pelvis. After three surgeries and 40 days in Australian hospitals, I was able to return home.


I love the sport of triathlon and hoped, before my accident, to race until I am 80. I believe that triathlon can play a vital role in the mental and physical health of this and future generations. Sportsmanship, shared responsibility for the safety of all competitors and adherence to the rules I hope will be the takeaway of this story.


Quoting Triathlon Life, “Sportsmanship is essential to the integrity of a sport — it should be challenging yet fair and safe, respectful of fellow competitors, officials, fans and organizers...” (Summer issue, pg. 14).


As Bob Healy commented (Summer issue of Triathlon Life, pg. 10 ) “... the safety of all competitors from strongest to weakest is of paramount importance, and I support race directors who keep this in mind.”


I salute USAT and Charlie Crawford for the rules that are stressed in all USAT races. They are there for our safety; be smart and adhere to them. You know what they are — they’re really just common sense!


Thank you to USAT and to all my fellow triathletes for their emails and encouragement this past year.


May you all race well, safely and with care for the athlete next to you!


28 USA TRIATHLON WINTER 2011

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