The Will to Win: Finding Warrior Spirit in the Triathlon

Last summer when he returned home from camp, Henry Smith came unprepared for the start of the cross country season. He placed second in the camp triathlon, but did not build up the miles he needed. His coach printed “the desire to win a championship means nothing without the will to run during the summer” on a t-shirt for him.

Henry brought that shirt and the will to run with him to his ninth year at Falling Creek this summer. He set a goal to run at least five miles a day with the exception of a few rest days. He would wake up an hour before the bell to run lake laps in the morning mountain fog or work on his core in the lodge while the rest of camp slept. He would run with his friends during first and second period cross country, or he would squeeze in jogs during the mayhem of all-camp games. His training prepared him for the 41st annual FCC Ironman triathlon. As race day approached, Henry had tallied 75 miles for the summer.

With his Texas swim cap tightly fitted around his head and the number 104 scrawled on his chest, Henry jumped into the Lower Lake. By the end of the first lake lap, Henry was in third place. Henry reminded himself to “put your head down and just keep swimming. You know you’re going to be out of breath.” He maintained the pace diving into the Upper Lake and finished third in the first leg of the race.

Henry made up ground in the mountain biking portion passing his competitors behind the Upper Lake in first loop of the old BMX trail. He caught air as he picked up speed heading into the second loop beneath the Rollercoaster. Again, Henry reminded himself, “You’re going to feel it. You’re going to feel it. Drop gears on the uphills.” Though he had found separation, he maintained the pace, because he needed to have time to retie his shoelaces before the running portion.

Ditching the bike and tying his shoes, Henry had found himself alone on the course as he powered through the two loops around the “Foo Foo Trail” out to the old apple orchard and up “heart breaker hill” behind the Betula cabins. But he was not sure that he had won the race until Nuckles called his name at the Landsports Field.

His friends from Cabin 40 cheered him and their friends on at the finish line.

His will to run this summer is not done. The next day, Henry was out running the trails during free period. He is on pace to achieve the 100 miles required for Warrior in cross country by the end of the week. On Tuesday, he will venture with a small group to run nine miles at Lake Summit.

Before school starts, he will join his team to undergo high altitude training in Colorado.

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