Mile 23: Actually No, I Don’t Want To Pay for Your Vacation
I chose this month’s Mile 23 photo because I look utterly ridiculous and I seem to have developed bingo wings. But we aren’t here to nitpick – the reality is, it represents a really fun, happy day for me where Mark and I decided to try a duathlon the week after our first 70.3 and they ended up being qualifiers for the World Championships. It sounded like a really fun experience and we made our summer vacation out of it.
It’s been a really exciting process for me to plan out a trip this far in advance. We are touching base with close friends near Penticton and plotting our travel route. We have secured our lodging, purchased our Team Canada race kits and put aside money to ensure that we can have a really fantastic and fun summer vacation. You know what we haven’t done?
Asked you to pay for it.
There seems to be a trend in the endurance sports world where age groupers will qualify for a world championship event and immediately put out a plea for money to their entire facebook audience and it blows my mind that it works. Maybe I am the fool here for not trying this because I have seen people raise significant amounts of money but I view it as entirely inappropriate. If you are a grown adult with a full-time job and the good fortune of being able to be involved in a ridiculously expensive hobby such as triathlon, duathlon or even running, I feel it completely unbecoming to beg for money to go on what is quite frankly a really really expensive trip.
Part of being an adult is understanding the whole picture. Signed up for a qualifying race? Check. Put in the hard work and effort to train? Check. Forgot things cost money? …
Don’t get me wrong, if you need financial assistance, there are many ways that are more appropriate to go about it such as having a personal conversation with close friends and family to request money, taking out a loan or finding a creative (and legal) way to make more money. And if you are a student without a salary and you have a potential career as a pro athlete, or you are raising money to go to compete in the Olympics or you are a professional athlete of any sort, I really think it is a different story. But the reality is, when age groupers go to world championships, as exciting and as much of an honour as it is, it is still a vacation.
Before I spiral off and start getting needlessly ranty, I want to get to the core of the issue for me. The reason I am so bothered by this is not that people have found a brilliant and unbecoming way to work the system, I am bothered because of where potential donations are NOT going.
I compare this issue to a growing trend in needy areas in South East Asia where poverty is rampant and there are locals struggling to feed their families, but backpackers have started taking over the local “begging” scene because they blew all their money at the bar the night before. I find a quote from the article extremely applicable to the point I am trying to make.
Participating in and competing in sport is a luxury. Qualifying and attending a world championship event is even more so, because it means you have spare time to grow and develop your own personal interests and hobbies and you are not worried about where your next meal comes from. So before you set up your GoFund.me page or donate to someone who has, may I recommend considering a donation to the countless charities who feed, clothe and care for our neighbours around the world who simply are focused on making it through today.
Mile 23 is a bit of a different tone than my other posts and are meant to inspire conversations in the athletic community. We are all adults here and if you disagree, I would love to hear your side of the story. If you agree, I welcome your input because I naturally have missed some things. Thank you!
OMG yes yes yes yes yes!!!! This needs to printed off and used in our educational system to teach children a god damn perspective
I appreciate this posting. I recently was one of those folks who donated to an individual attending a world championship running event. Generally I donate to various causes throughout the year (I am blessed with financial means to be able to do this), but my one criteria is that the cause has to touch them personally. Meaning it is an issue that has effected them directly, not a “friend of a friend”. Normally I would not donate so that an individual could attend a running event, and I have been asked to before. In this case the individual was someone who I knew struggled with mental health – depression, and has been a strong and vocal advocate for it. Mental Health is an issue very close to my heart and something I am passionate about. I chose in this case to donate because the powerful message it sends about mental illness, and how it de-stigmatizes the issue. I understand that I could have donated to mental health in other ways, and I usually do, but for this issue it isn’t just about that haves and the have nots. It is also about challenging the labels associated with depression, and sending such a strong person across the country to represent. That makes me proud as both a mental health professional and a Canadian.
I guess my point here is that the cause hit home for me, and that’s what tipped me over to donate. Normally I would never donate to send someone on a running vacation. I totally agree with your statements on that. I choose my own events and make sure I can afford them. As a side note, I don’t believe this person ran the qualifying event with the intention of going to the world championship.
Love your blog btw- I think this is the first time I have ever commented but I read it faithfully.
Thanks Trish. I really appreciate your input. Mental health is certainly something that I believe in supporting and I am glad you shared your perspective.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
Phaedra @ Blisters and Black Toenails says
As usual, so very well said Jess! I agree 150%
So so agree!
Jerry Banks says
I completely disagree. Who are you to tell someone who has achieved their dreams or goals that they don’t have the right to ask people to support them financially. Regardless of their occupation or funds or the fact that you thought “these are not hard to qualify for”. Who are you to state the level of hardness of people’s dreams. Personally I find this post kind of disgusting and I don’t understand the benefit behind bad mouthing age group athletes that do this. Although you will go and use it as a vacation tell the person who has overcome whatever hurdles in life ( you personally have no idea ) to go their and represent their journey and their country. If you don’t understand that then why do you compete in sports. Not always about the fast kms and then blogging about it. Don’t take that the wrong way I am an avid reader of this blog however you have lost a reader definitely and I’m sure your sponsors and multi sport wouldn’t be thrilled about bashing age groupers way to achieve their dreams.
Jerry, thank you so much for taking the time to respond. Like I said, I welcome hearing from different perspectives to have a well-rounded perspective on things like this. Firstly, I wanted to approach what I feel you are most offended about – I want to clarify that not all world championships events are easy to qualify for, what I was saying was the duathlon world championships, for my age group and in my area, are. If I remember correctly, there were only 2 in my age group for the event and the top two go to worlds, so I still stand behind my statement that the duathlon world championships are not hard to qualify for.
You are correct to say that I do not understand what you personally have gone through, but in answer to your question, I compete in sports because I love it! It is a great way to stay balanced and healthy and I use this blog to inspire and connect with other athletes. I am sorry to see you go but I wish you all the success in your athletic future. Run strong! 🙂
Reading a lot of your posts tonight for the first time! You are one amazing lady/writer! Love them all and what you are saying! And classy responses! How do you have time for all this… did you find a day with more than 24 hours in it? How many roles can one lady do so well?! Friend , family , career woman, superb athlete, fantastic insightful blogger to name a few….and I just started reading 😜 Well done !! Keep it up! 🙌
Erin – you are actually the sweetest. I do these things because I LOVE them. It isn’t terribly hard to balance when it is everything I love (but keep in mind, I live alone and don’t have little ones..I hear that changes things…;)
Thank you for taking the time to write such a sweet comment. Glad you are here.