WITC at the Borowno Triathlon 2012

WITC at the Panasonic Evolta Triathlon, Borówno 2nd September 2012

On a sunny morning about 20km north of Bydgoszcz, 7 WITC athletes and another half dozen supporters made their way to Borowno for one of the biggest events on the Polish triathlon calendar.  This late season triathlon features both ½ Ironman and full Ironman distance circuits, with the two races occurring simultaneously.  The full Ironman distance got underway at 7am, featuring Grzegorz Bobrownicki-Libchen (competing for the 2nd time at Borówno, you can read about last year’s ironman here) and Stan Staniczenko (first time Ironman triathlete) racing for WITC. Weather conditions were ideal for a late season race, and both competitors got off to comfortable starts.  The Half Ironman distance featured Luca Colombo, Maciej Brzezinski, Lukasz Sodoł, Emil Truszkowski, Adam Piekarski. For Maciej, Lukasz, Emil and Adam, it was their first shot at the Half-Ironman distance!

The half-ironmen and women ready to go…

The support team and their amazing banner

By the afternoon, both races were well underway and the WITC fans had something/someone to cheer for at almost every moment.  The cycle course was about 30km in length so the half-iron/iron racers did 3/6 laps respectively.  Dominika Piasecka and Ewa Smiechowska led the WITC cheering all day creating a banner for the club and getting good use out of Ken Globerman’s WITC bullhorn!  “Dawaj! Dawaj! Dawaj! Dawaj” is forever engrained my head! Thanks Domi.

The last element of the triathlon, the running portion, was something special.  With 5 of our 8 competitors attempting distances never before achieved, many of our WITC supporters ran alongside our team mates over sections of the racecourse, providing encouragement, nutrition, support and conversation.

In the end, the entire WITC crew completed their respective races, and even though Grzegorz once again crashed on his bike and battled severe stomach cramps the entire way, he fought his way through to completing his second Ironman distance in as many years.  Go Grzegorz! And finally, a special acknowledgement to Stan, who finished his first-ever Ironman distance race and Luca who got a personal best in the half-ironman distance race – both setting WITC club records in the process!

All smiles at the end of a long day – congratulations everyone!

Thanks once again to all the WITC supporters – who provide a special level of enthusiasm that is the “secret sauce” of Warsaw International Triathlon Club’s success!   Love it!  Together, we’re moving forward!

WITC Roll Call

Ironman Distance                                        WITC support team
Grzegorz Bobrownicki-Libchen                       Ken Globerman
Stan Stadniczenko                                             Marta Raducha
Half-Ironman Distance                              Ewa Smiechowksa
Luco Colombo                                                     Dominika Piasecka
Maciej Brzezinski                                               Paulina Jędrzejczyk
Emil Truszkowski
Lukasz Sodol
Adam Piekarski

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WITC at the Siedlce triathlon

Siedlce Triathlon, 26th August 2012

A few months ago a super-sprint triathlon (400m – 10km – 3km) seemed like a great introduction to the crazy world of triathlons for many WITC’ers and there was a strong turnout of 13 athletes looking forward to the challenge with 8 of those 13 never having participated in a triathlon before and more than a little apprehensive about what they’d signed up for.

The whole day itself turned out to be very dramatic and emotional involving a whole lot of rain, laughter, sand, blood, punctures, sweat, theft, mud and tandoori chicken for everyone involved.

August had been a pretty good month with many Saturday morning runs moved to the early morning because of sunshine and high temperatures but unfortunately for the WITC’ers, most of the month’s rain decided to arrive on Sunday morning … and the rest of it in the afternoon. Besides the weather there was a bit more bad luck for some members of the club. Cristina found a flat tire on her bike when she got there, but managed to persuade some local handymen to repair it before the start. Alan being as competitive as usual managed to top that by having his bike stolen the day before the race! But in spite of all these problems everyone managed to make it to the start-line ready to take on the challenge.

All smiles despite the rain, nerves and issues

There were 4 people (Cristina, Alan, Hans, Igors and Andy) who had done a triathlon already at Susz and I think the day before it’s fair to say that most of them were pretty confident about doing their second. A combination of bad weather, bad luck and pre-race anticipation, however, meant that at least 3 out of the 5 were feeling a bit like first-timers before the race started (Hans and Igors either hide their nerves well or are simply too cool for that sort of thing).

For the real first timers it was time to test out all the training they’d been doing (or not doing in some cases!) and see what this triathlon stuff was all about.  Any ideas that because this was a shorter triathlon meant that it was going to be an easy one were to be dispelled pretty quickly. Some of the triathlon debutants were trying out their recently perfected crawl techniques and put in very impressive times while some swimming stars were uncovered who’ve been hiding their talents from the triathlon community.

Dominika and Ewa finishing the swim neck and neck

As everyone gathered lakeside before the start of the swim, the weather was doing its best to put people off but despite a few shivers everyone got into the lake and before you knew the countdown had finished and they were off. The 400m swim took the triathletes in a triangular route around the lake and back to the shore. With a few exceptions everyone did great in the swim, and 2 WITC’ers even came out of the water neck and neck and the competitive spirit was evident as they sprinted to the transition area.

The 10km bike route was a very bumpy and (thanks to the weather) muddy track through the woods – it was a route that would have been tough in the dry and the rain made it extra difficult for our intrepid triathletes. One in particular, Cristina, was slowed down after a great swim down by a recurrence of a flat tyre on the first lap of the bike ride. After struggling around half the course with just one pumped tyre a spectator lent her a bike in an act of extraordinary kindness as she approached the start of the second lap so she was able to finish the bike ride.

Sebastian fighting his way through the bike route

By the time it had come for the run the sun was actually trying to make an appearance. After the tough cycle I think everyone was glad to be on the 3km run which took competitors around the lake and back. Like in Susz, this gave the WITC’ers a chance to see each other while competing and there were lots of hi/lo-fives, nods of the head and breathless hi’s in acknowledgement.

The WITC team supporting Simona to the finish line as she completes her first triathlon

Ivo finished as the fastest WITC’er but more importantly everyone finished successfully in what were tough conditions, and despite some pre/during-race incidents! Congratulations everyone :)

SIEDLCE SPRINT ROLL-CALL

Competitors                                                                        Support team
Hans Koeppen                                                                        Olgierd Swida
Cristina Moldoveanu                                                             Marta Raducha
Igors Berkovics                                                                      Magda Bebenek
Andy Mossop
Alan Parsons
Marta Makowska
Dominika Piasecka
Ewa Smiechowksa
Ania Lewandowska
Simona Klijewicz
Ivo Klijewicz
Sebastian Popiolek
Piotr Zaborowski

 

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WITC at the Susz triathlon

Herbalife Susz Triathlon, 7th-8th July 2012

The weekend of 7th-8th July saw the moment arrive that many WITC’ers had been anticipating for months. 22 club members headed up to Susz for the weekend (16 to compete plus 6 fantastic supporters) as the club geared up for the biggest event of the year – the Susz Herbalife Triathlon. After months of training, swimming, cycling, running, “brick”ing and mental preparation, not to mention the logistics and organisation of the whole thing, the time had come to put WITC well and truly on the Polish triathlon map.

WITC’s (half) Ironmen ready to go

The first day saw the Half Ironman race with 3 WITC’ers participating. The rest of the group came along to cheer them on and get an idea of what to expect the next day as the realisation slowly started to dawn that this triathlon-thingy is going to happen. After seeing Grzegorz, Stan and Luca successfully complete the Half-Ironman distance, we all made our way back to the hotel, giving us a chance for some last minute open water swimming, cycling and preparation of the race gear…

After an early start on the Sunday, breaking our collective fasts, packing stuff and driving down to Susz, it was time to get the bikes out of the van and make a few minor adjustments (or change inner tubes in a few cases, and in one particular case several times!) before the Sprint group headed down to the transition area to drop off their stuff. Then all that was left to do was wait…

Sprinters and support team before the big day

The Sprint Triathlon was split into 2 groups with the women, children and older men in the first group at 11am, and everyone else in the second group at 1pm. This gave everyone competing on Sunday the chance to cheer on the other group, and as Ken, Hans, Mark, Lizzy, Cristina and Kasia lined up on the shore of the lake, the other WITC’ers were all watching, cheering them on and taking copious amounts of pictures. After seeing the first group finish the first two stages, the second group (Emil, Igors, Alex, Tristan, Andy, Alan and Maciej) headed to the transition zone to get ready for the start of their race, just as the first group was finishing.

All smiles at the finish line

The second group was very competitive (contrary to widespread rumours no scorpions were put in anyone’s shoes!) and although Emil came out clearly on top, only about 10 minutes separated the other 6 competitors, and afterwards everyone met up at the finish line for some much needed refreshments and to pose for yet more photos.

A big congratulations goes out to everyone who took part and finished the event – for most it was their first ever triathlon and almost certainly not the last, and a huge thanks to the support team too on what was a great weekend individually and collectively!

Once everyone had recovered the club held a post-Susz awards ceremony at Znajomy Znajomych which included a video superbly edited by Olgierd. This seemed to catch the imagination of even more WITC’ers as there were more first-time triathletes at the Siedlce triathlon in August – watch this space for more information about that!

WITC ROLL-CALL
Sprint                                                                  Half-Ironman
Ken Globerman                                                   Stan Stadniczenko
Hans Koeppen                                                     Grzegorz Bobrownicki-Libchen
Mark Mulrainey                                                  Luco Colombo
Cristina Moldoveanu
Lizzy Shackelford
Kasia Janota                                                         Support team
Emil Truszkowski                                                Julia Korysheva
Alex Hobley                                                          Olga Krasowska
Igors Berkovics                                                    Olgierd Swida
Andy Mossop                                                       Lucian Albulescu
Maciej Brzezinski                                                 Marta Raducha
Tristan Sakura                                                     Magda Słomska
Alan Parsons

Some club members have also written blogs about their individual experience of the Susz triathlon, which you can read below:
Lizzy
Tristan
Alan
Andy

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Countdown to Susz with Lizzy pt. 5: And then there was Susz

Feeling anxious watching the half-ironman race the day before

After months of training, and much build-up of anxiety, Susz finally arrived.  To be expected, we had some last minute crises – “technical difficulties” with the van we rented for the bikes, “courtesy-challenged” hotel staff where we stayed, road detours and closures.  But we all made it there and, even more importantly, we all successfully completed the race!

The sprint triathlon itself exceeded my expectations.  In light of how anxious I was about completing the swim, possibly getting a flat tire, falling down on the bike, etc., I was surprised at simply how fun the event was.  I enjoy half marathons and 10k runs, but all you do is start running and, at some point, stop.  Triathlons are dynamic.  Three different disciplines and the transitions in between keep things exciting.  The race was completed in a quick hour and a half (though the last few minutes of running to the finish line did seem to last forever!).  It did not shake out quite how I expected.  I was surprised to find that the swim was comparatively my best performance of the three, far better than I had done in training.  My constant fretting over possible technical problems on my bike appears to have invited them – my high gear malfunctioned, slowing me down and leaving me even more exhausted for the run.  But the unexpected is to be expected in such activities, and that is all part of the fun.

1 down, 2 to go...

One critical factor I was not expecting was just how much support our group would have along every step of the competition.  The sprint triathlon was split into two waves – one group started at 11:00 am and finished just before the second group began at 1:00 pm.  As a result, those of us competing were able to cheer on the WITCers competing in the other group.  The three WITCers who had completed the Half-Ironman triathlon the day before miraculously still had energy to support us as well.  Several other dear WITCers joined for the weekend to cheer us on, and they seem to have expended as much energy and effort in this task as we did in the triathlon.  No doubt, this support was a major factor in our success.  At so many critical moments when fatigue would start to creep in, seeing a friendly face and hearing an encouraging word along the route would pick me up immediately.  This encouragement and comradery that helped bring me to the finish line at Susz was the same that carried me through months of training and preparation.  Thank you, my fellow WITCers, for making it possible for me to complete my first triathlon.  Now who’s ready for the next one??

Congratulations all round

You can read Lizzy’s previous blogs here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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Countdown to Susz with Lizzy pt. 4: Susz is almost here!

Late night, exhausted after a long weekend of running, cycling, and open-water swim training, and I find myself reading articles and blogs of tips for first time triathletes. The Susz triathlon is only a few days away. More than a dozen WITCers are set to compete in the upcoming Susz triathlon – most in the sprint, but a few impressive souls in the half-iron – and we have bonded over frequent swimming, cycling, and running activities. I’m starting to feel like triathlon training has taken over my life. For most of our group, this triathlon will be our first. In the past few months, I’ve run, cycled, and swam quite a few kilometers. I’ve re-learned how to swim, numbed my rear with many hours on a road bike, cautiously learned how to use clip-in bike shoes (not always successfully), and realized that anything triathlon-related in my size is hard to find in Poland.

If I’m not training for the triathlon, there is a good chance I’m talking about it with someone. And when we talk about it, what are we usually discussing? For the newbies, the swim. Distances in the sprint triathlon are quite manageable, and most of us are reasonably experienced runners. The five kilometer run at the end may not be fast, but it should be okay. And, while I haven’t cycled much in many years, riding a bike is… well… like riding a bike. Swimming 750 meters in a muddy opaque lake with a few hundred others is by far the most intimidating to those of us who haven’t done this before. Hence, the open-water training 90 kilometers outside Warsaw on the weekend. What did I learn from this experience? Other than the fact that both involve water, swimming in a pool is nothing like swimming in a lake. You can’t find your direction looking in the water, and you have no lane ropes to ensure you don’t go off course. It’s colder (at least here in Poland). You have more need to relax but less ability to. The wetsuit, with its warmth and buoyancy, is a near and dear friend now! If you track your location by watching other swimmers, just hope they’re not off course as well.

Post open water swim

I thought at this point I would be looking forward to a few weeks of relaxation after Susz, with minimal training as I recover from the big push of the past two months. I’m still intimidated by Susz – the swim, the transitions, the mass of people — but I appear to be getting hooked. Susz is only on the horizon, but I’m already looking past it at possible Olympic distance triathlons in the future. Many things could go wrong this Sunday – broken bike chains, injuries, etc. But for me, all the training and preparation I’ve done is not just about Susz and checking the tri box. I’m looking forward to a fun and challenging triathlon experience on Sunday, and I hope it’s just the start.

You can read Lizzy’s previous blogs here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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ORTOREH holds lecture for WITC members

                

On 26th June, WITC‘s Tuesday Evening Running Series culminated with a trip over to Warsaw Sports Physical and Massage Therapy Clinic “ORTOREH“. One of WITC’s core partners, ORTOREH, is a specialist sports rehabilitation clinic which was founded to meet the medical needs of people who are physically active, and for whom fitness and sport are a priority. Co-owners Ewa and Andrzej Piotrowski and 3 of their staff specialists welcomed about 15 WITC’s members for a 90 minute talk.

Conducted in Polish (with wonderful translation by club interpreter Marta Raducha), ORTOREH’s clinicians discussed typical injuries and injury prevention techniques for runners and triathletes. They also demonstrated essential stretching and core-strengthening tips to help mitigate future injury. Finally, club members were exposed to the critical difference between “over-use injuries” vs. “degenerative injuries” – often confused by many amateur athletes who often conclude they should retire from the sport!

Club member Martin Pape took the following video of the lecture:

This is the first of such lectures WITC will be organizing for its members. To become a member, please click here.

For more information on the range of partners that offer exclusive discounts to WITC members please click here.

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WITC at the Accreo Ekiden Relay Maraton

Accreo Ekiden Relay Maraton, Sunday 27th May 2012

2 WITC teams took part in a great relay marathon held in Kepa Potocka on Sunday 27th May, with the competitive juices in full flow between both teams. It was the club’s first appearance at a relay event and for the majority of us it was also the first time we’d tried an event of this kind. We arrived in Kepa Potocka in the north of Warsaw for the 2pm start with the conditions almost perfect for running, dry but cloudy with a bit of sun coming through – you couldn’t have asked for more :)

A rare, successful GB baton handover

The race was held on a 5km loop (which also included an additional 2.72 km loop to make up the full marathon distance) which meant that those not running could cheer on the people taking part and made for a great atmosphere, especially as the runners came down the last kilometre where the majority of the people were gathered. It’s quite rare to have your teammates cheer you on in a race as usually we’re all running together so this was a different, but still great, feeling.

Leo and co sprint down the home straight

One of the highlights of the race was when the last runner on each team (Igors Berkovics and Leo Vilhena) came down the final straight, and the rest of the team (plus a few others) jumped onto the course and ran the final 100m or so together with them! Although Igors himself said it scared him it was still a great gesture of teamwork, which after all is what this race was all about.

 

All in all it was a great day out and we can’t wait till next year’s edition!

Alex takes on the baton

Accreo Ekiden Relay Marathon roll-call:

TEAM A                                                                                 TEAM B

Laurent Uhres                                                                        Anna Kaminska

Andy Mossop                                                                          Erdal Halil

Alan Parsons                                                                           Rob Phillips

Cristina Moldoveanu                                                              Alex Hobley

Ewa Smiechowska                                                                  Dominika Piasecka

Igors Berkovics                                                                       Leo Vilhena

Gimme a "W"

Congratulations to everyone who took part!!

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Countdown to Susz with Lizzy pt. 3: Time to jump in the pool

Some time after I joined WITC, it occured to me that this was actually a triathlon club.  Under the circumstances, it only seemed appropriate that I give one of these other sports a try.  In the bleak, cold, dark winter, swimming in an indoor pool did have some appeal.  So in late January this year, I returned to a sport I abandoned in 1985.

At six years old, I decided swim team was not for me.  But with a half marathon under my belt and an enthusiastic group of active friends around me, I thought maybe it was time to give it another try.  After all, the idea of the triathlon peaked my interest.  Could I do it?  Did I want to?  If I didn’t enjoy swimming, the answer would be easy.

I had to track down the right gear (a proper swimsuit for starters) and re-learn the etiquette of a lap pool.  I also had to convince myself it was worth the effort.  After all, part of the appeal of running is the ease with which it can be done.  If you have the shoes, you can start your workout from the moment you walk out your door.  Starting my swim required a bus, a tram, a costume change, a shower and a fee.  Without the lure of the triathlon, I probably never would have given it a try.

I’ll admit, swimming itself was not terribly exciting for me at first, but I left the pool feeling invigorated.  It was such a different feeling from finishing a run.  The body was tired but the mind alert, and this is true every time I swim.  In fact, I always have trouble winding down for bed after our Thursday night swim trainings that end at 10 pm.

A few weeks after I began swimming, Ken organized a weekly coach-led training, at which point I realized I had a lot to learn.  I think Tomek, our coach, had something else in mind when he signed up to train an international group of triathlon hopefuls.  For most of us, he had to break down our stroke and rebuild it again.  I’m not sure if it was harder or easier with those who didn’t have a stroke in the first place.

Being re-taught how to swim freestyle is a humbling experience.  I felt a bit like the clumsy kid in swim team again, which can be disconcerting at 33.  However, my improvements in endurance and style are concrete and tangible in just a few months.  What a simple pleasure that is, and one I don’t often experience in other aspects of my life.  Last week, I made my first attempt at swimming non-stop the 750 meter distance we will face in Susz, and I completed it well within the allowed time period.  That felt great!

I still need to work on my style, and I hope to improve my time.  But we have a triathlon in six weeks.  Now it’s time to buy a bike….

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Meet the Members – Ken Globerman

In our first Meet the Members feature, we chat to club founder Ken Globerman about tri-atha-lons, what brought him to Poland, where the I in WITC came from, the club going viral, parlaying (?) and his plans for the future.

It’s Tuesday 17th April, just before the first Tuesday night run of the season, and I’m sat with Ken at PKP Powisle…

AP: First of all Ken, can you tell us what got you interested in endurance sports in the first place?

"Triathlon seemed like a good direction, but I couldn't swim more than 100 meters! My first race was a virtual disaster, but things improved from there."

KG: While completing my MBA I’d gradually found myself getting more and more out of shape. Although I played inline hockey once a week it wasn’t enough and my weight kept slowly creeping up. Then one day I had my “come to Jesus” moment. I was eating dinner after a workout on a treadmill and got this slight chest cramp. I went to see a physician and although I was told everything was okay, I made up my mind to do something about it. My brother recommended a great book to me by Diana Schwarzbein called the Schwarzbein Principle which gave me a radically new way to look at health and nutrition, for example, the chapter I’ll never forget – “”Fat doesn’t make you fat”, and I changed my diet and started running. I started with 5k, then moved to 10k and then my first half-marathon in March 2003. For the first time in my life, I actually CONSIDERED a marathon – maybe 2004? But in 2003 I entered the NYC Marathon lottery just for fun, not really expecting to get a place. But I actually got IN and found myself suddenly faced with having to train for a marathon, having never ran more than 13 miles before, just 6 months before the big day.

AP: And what about triathlons?

KG: Between 2003 and 2005 I did a ton of long distance running races – probably 8-10 per year, half of which were half marathon distance or greater and including the 2003 and 2004 NYC Marathon. I noticed I was getting some aches and pains in my knee from the marathon training back then, so to protect my body from what appeared to be the wear and tear of long distance training, I looked for cross-training outlets. Triathlon seemed like a good direction, but I couldn’t swim more than 100 meters! So it didn’t seem like an achievable goal. But in 2008 I finally decided to give it a go. My first race, a sprint triathlon, was a virtual disaster, but things improved from there. Now I mix in triathlons with running events, and the rest is history. By the way, no more knee pain.

[At this point I noticed that the recording function on my not very smart phone wasn’t running, so the rest of the interview should actually sound a bit more Ken-esque…]

AP: Anyway … I want to ask you a few non-triathlon questions now. Moving forward a little bit more, what brought you to Poland?

"I started to realize that all these people I’m meeting are all coming into New York and realizing some kind of objective or dream and that perhaps I’m missing out on something."

KG: Well, wow, that’s a story, that’s a question I get almost every day here. I grew up in New York City and after University came back there to work – it’s different when you live in New York as an working adult versus growing-up there, I think once you get past your early 20s and begin to make new friends, through work, relationships stuff like that, you start to realize that most of your friends in New York are no longer New Yorkers, they’re all transplanted New Yorkers, coming from somewhere else with a goal of working or doing something in New York. I think, like, 10-15 years after University I kinda hit a point – it didn’t come one day, it was over time – where I started to realize that all these people I’m meeting are all coming into New York and realizing some kind of objective or dream and that perhaps I’m missing out on something. My first trip to Poland was actually in 2003 and I had a great time.  And when I thought about where, I started to realize that a lot of my recent post-University friends, from about 2005 onwards, were all from CEE. I don’t know why, but in hindsight most of the friends I was keeping were from Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia, Russia and the Ukraine, so I thought, there must be something to the region. I was coming to the region about once a year with work and often extended those work trips into some personal vacation to explore different cities. Basically I did a bunch of diligence on these countries because I work in the private equity/investment field, and after talking to a number of parties, this city, Warsaw, made the most sense for me to come to look for opportunities that perhaps were related to investment activity. New York City is and will always be my true home, but Warsaw has been a great place to achieve some personal and professional milestones.

AP: Ok, so it’s fair to say your reason was primarily work-related. Right Ken, you’ve been coming to Poland for about a year and a half now so you have had a good chance to get to know the country and the people. What do you like most about Poland?

KG: [Ken takes a moment to think while I relax and enjoy the silence…]

AP: You must get asked this question all the time, I know I do.

"I think ... there’s definitely something about the way I interact with people here that has been a positive ... I found people in Poland to be open to listen, open at least to respect my opinion for something different."

KG: Well, you know, I think it’s 2 things. I think on the one hand there’s definitely something about the way I interact with people here that has been a positive, even before I started coming here. I feel I interact well with Polish people. I‘m sure it’s a combination of a lot of reasons, and I think it’s mainly because I’m very different with the way I go about things and communicate, I am not too shy to express myself in strange situations, I pretty much wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I have no problem telling someone how I feel about something, I am also the kinda person who likes to talk, as we all know, and I also like to, not impress myself to a ridiculous degree, but I like to offer up different points of view where hopefully someone can get some learning out of that. I found people in Poland to be open to listen, open at least to respect my opinion for something different that could be interesting, it doesn’t mean I’m changing the world, but, you know, I guess that’s kinda the two things together.

AP: Ok cool. So you must have had some preconceptions about what Poland  was like and what the people were like before coming here. Can you say what has surprised you most about life in Poland?

KG:  That Polish winters are not as bad as everybody complains about.

AP: Maybe you just haven’t seen a bad one yet!

KG: Maybe not. It’s been two winters now and so far I’m going with that. And related to that, people complain about health far too much in this country. Health, sickness – it’s like, “wow”.

AP: Have you heard the thing about pressure – air pressure?

KG: Yeah it’s completely foreign to me, the whole air pressure thing, people are just too focused on health and weather it’s just like out of control. And related to that, you know, in Poland the minute the weather goes down below like 15 degrees Celsius you see people with winter coats and hat’s on, they’re over-prepared.

AP: Right, going back to the US, what do you miss most from home when you’re in Europe?

KG: Well ..

AP: It could be anything … apart from KFC!

KG: Well in fact the choice of really good food, and restaurants. The ability to eat out well late at night, for not a lot of money. You just don’t have the same choices here.

AP: So it is the food then! Let’s go back to sports now. What made you set up the club?

"I’m really happy to see a group of core members ... we have been able to successfully transition interest in running into another discipline with the swimming."

KG: In late 2010, I didn’t see any running, triathlon nothing, although I noticed there were more runners than in 2003. I actually came earlier in the year on a business trip in 2010 and ran the Warsaw Half Marathon, I came here for about a week then, and it was nice to see like 5,000 runners doing the race. I had a friend who used to live here, he’s a road cyclist, and he was like “there’s no roads to ride there and no-one who rides road bikes” and I figured, well I’d like to keep running and I’d like to keep doing triathlons while I’m here, I’m just not sure who I’ll train with, so over the winter I started to have this idea that when the season starts I’ve just got to create some sort of group to meet up and do stuff like this. In Brooklyn, I was a member of the Brooklyn Triathlon Club so I thought, “You know what, why not try to rubber-stamp that community-oriented, local grassroots effort in Poland?”. But before doing that, I found myself convincing people (or trying to) that they could run, do a race or do a triathlon, but this whole thing just kinda like parlayed [editor’s note: I have no idea what that means – it sounds French to me] into the idea of creating a group to specifically target people who aren’t necessarily super athletes but just wanna go out and compete and maybe compete with themselves, but they’re not competing to win. There was very little sport activity in Poland and even less for the average Joe.

AP: And obviously you used Facebook as the main medium for that.

KG: Yeah I just set a Facebook group up and at the beginning I added, like, 20 of my friends in Warsaw, who I thought might like to join me, and after that I never ever included anybody in the group that didn’t actually join us or tell me that they wanted to join.

AP: Hold on a sec, let me just check my phone is working …

[There’s a sigh of relief as I see it’s recording this time :)]

AP: Ok so, the club’s been going over a year now, what aspect or aspects of the club are you most pleased with?

KG: I guess the main thing is, well, we’ve got about 180 people on our Facebook group, which is nice, but it’s really easy to put yourself in a Facebook group, the fact of the matter is we probably have 50 what I call active members and about 25-30 core members, and so it’s 2 things: 1 I’m really happy to see a group of core members, that’s great; 2 I’m really happy that the group didn’t fall apart over the off-season, because through this first summer as it was growing I always had this, like, fear that we’d hit October and the Marathon and after that things would fall away, so I’m really glad that whatever ingredient worked we kept the group together pretty well, and now we’re poised for a new season where we’re doing our first Tuesday night run today and we’ve got like 15+ people coming, which is awesome. Last year I started in April and I had 1 or 2 people joining me, so that’s really cool. And I guess the last thing I’ll say is, we have been able to successfully transition interest in running into another discipline with the swimming. I always had this strategy of getting people interested with the running and the idea was always to slowly sell people on the idea of triathlon, and migrate to the second and third sports – frankly we tried cycling last year and it kinda fell apart. I was not successful at recreating any good group rides last season and you know now, by the virtue the fact that we’ve got people with these triathlons in front of them, by the sheer nature of that alone we will have better opportunities to ride together.

AP: And I think through the winter, obviously starting up the swimming really helped keep the group together. And about the transition from a running club to a triathlon group, when I first joined the Facebook group it was a running group, then about a month or 2 later the name suddenly changed into a triathlon group and I remember thinking to myself – triathlon, really?!?

"You know what kinda happened by accident, we became an international group..."

KG: Well back then we didn’t have a logo. I always had it in my mind, I didn’t really communicate it much but it was always there. I thought that triathlon was going to be a better differentiator because we were so far at the front end of triathlon at that time. You know what? It kinda happened by accident, we became an international group, that was not planned. I thought because we’re in Poland it would probably end up being primarily a Polish group but just by the virtue of me being a foreigner and starting this group, the initial people and their friends being foreigners, we now have this group of people where maybe half are Polish but the other half are from several different countries, so the name changed. Originally I was calling it the Warsaw Triathlon Club, or actually WTC, but WTC was actually an acronym that was taken by a running group, if you Google it in Polish it actually stands for something related to a Polish running club, and I was actually thinking of going with a Polish version of the Warsaw Triathlon Club, like WKT, but that felt weird, and then the idea came up, someone in the group said it – why not call it the Warsaw International Triathlon Club – WITC, and it sounded like a neat idea.

AP: It sure does! Me and you have talked a lot about some of the aims for the club in the future, and I know there are a lot. Could you tell us about one or two of the big ones for the next 6-12 months?

KG: I would love to see the club’s awareness go viral in Poland. We’ve done a pretty good job of incremental growth, growing from zero to 180 people on Facebook, with 50 very active members and 25 or so core members, I’d love to see, as you know we’re trying to create this sort of fan/club member rank, I’d love to see a five hundred to a thousand fans, I’d love to see the awareness of the club come out even greater than that. I don’t think the core members need to go up too much higher, it’s going to change everything if all of a sudden the club has 200 active members, but if we can get the club let’s say by the end of the year to 50 core members, 100 active members and like 500 fans, basically double where we are now, that’s one goal I have in mind. And the second goal is to really get 20-25 people successfully through a triathlon this year, you know, we’ve got a lot of people who are registered but are they gonna show up come race day? I hope so. So I want to see the club get 25 or so people really going, and maybe by that time we’ll have another 25 who by the end of the summer are poised to do it next year.

AP: Ok cool, that was nice and short! We’re onto the last question now, what are your personal targets for the next 12 months when it comes to sports?

KG: You know, I read a book (given to me by Tomek Jozefacki) called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, written by a Japanese guy, I forget his name [editor: his name’s Haruki Murakami for those of you interested], anyway, I guess I’m at that point in my life and my age that I’m fighting and debating with myself whether I can continue to improve or whether I’m on that endless downslope of times going down due to chronological reasons. I don’t buy into it yet, because I never really achieved my greatest potential, so I know I still have room for improvement. Do I have time goals – yeah of course I do but my fitness right now is so far off from being able to achieve the time goals I really would like to achieve. So for the next 12 months I guess the aims are for me to get through the Summer, do these 3 triathlons, including the half ironman in Borowno, and do it well, injury-free, that’s really what I have in mind over the short term. The key is injury free. And you know, of course I always have in my mind the goal of one day running a 1.30 half marathon and one day running a 3.30 marathon but I’m just not there, I’m not there. My personal half-marathon best is now several years old and it 1h38 or something like that, and I’m now 5-6 years after that so I’m gonna have to work real hard to get there. But it’s still there in the back of my mind for some time in the future, let’s say before I’m 50! :)

AP: Hehe … alright thanks a lot for that Ken, that’s all my questions. Here’s to a great 2012 season!

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WITC to hold inaugural 5km fun run as part of the Polska Biega weekend

                                                                Polska Biega logo

Inaugural WITC fun run, Saturday 19th May 12 midday

Warsaw International Triathlon Club, Poland’s first internationally-focused triathlon club is proud to announce that it will be organising a 5km “fun run” as part of the Polska Biega series of events on Saturday 19th May. The event is open to the public and for all levels.

“Any organized event focused on promoting endurance sport and fitness to the general population is of interest to our club“, says Ken Globerman, WITC’s Founder and President. “Our club’s mission is to not only help foster the development of a local triathlon community in Warsaw, but promote the individual disciplines of triathlon (swimming, cycling, and running) as well.”

This year is the 8th edition of the Polska Biega initiative, which aims at promoting running in Poland. Over the entire weekend various running events are planned across the whole of Poland. For more information, see the link above.

Meeting point: Outside PKP Powisle bar

Start time: 12 midday, Saturday 19th May

Fees: None

Registration form – Please click on the link to register for this event.

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