Part I: By Mark & Lee Turner
A curious feature of our involvement in various activities is that we have always found ourselves “inside the ropes.” This phrase is from our days working in golf. It refers to the ropes that often separate the spectators from the administrators and competitors in a tournament. We have come to use the term to describe our attraction to becoming more deeply involved in activities that ignite our passion for service. This is how we became rules officials in triathlon.
Lee: When Mark first started competing in multisport, I could no longer give him assistance during the race like I had been able to when he was only competing in running events. Then at a triathlon in Louisiana, I met the USAT rules official and started talking to him about his responsibilities and role in the sport. I was interested. Here was something I could do!
I was an active runner and knew how to swim and ride a bike, but I could never imagine putting all three together to compete in a triathlon myself. He assured me that USAT is always looking for new officials and encouraged me to get involved. Within a couple of months, I was a certified rules official, and I now spend 15-20 weekends each year in service to a sport I have grown to love as a spectator, competitor, volunteer, and rules official.
Mark: When Lee and I took up the game of golf it became rapidly apparent to me that I was not going to be a world class golfer, no matter how many times I read Ben Hogan’s, “Five Lessons.” But I have always gravitated toward understanding the rules of the sports I have participated in. I reached out to the local USGA reps, joined the Committee, went to Rules school and eventually found myself serving as the regional association’s Director of Competitions. In no time at all Lee went to Rules school and we both found ourselves spending weekends on the links officiating.
Fast forward a few years and I started racing triathlon and, as usual, I started with a desire to understand the Competitive Rules. I became a full time coach with Team MPI and, true to fashion, became a triathlon rules official. Lee led the way this time and became a certified USAT Rules Official a year before I did. It wasn’t long then before we were officiating events in our local area and soon we would be invited to serve the sport in the ranks of IRONMAN officials.
In this series of blogs for Quintana Roo, we hope to convey the central reason we officiate: to give back to the sport and to serve our fellow athletes. We have been really fortunate to have been mentored and invited into the ranks of officials by really great people. Lee and I share with those mentors the guiding principle we learned as golf officials and now carry into our roles as triathlon officials: we are not the enemy of the athletes. As athletes ourselves, we are there for the athletes. In addition to offering insight into a greater understanding of the rules, we also hope to invite you along on our adventures from the road as officials, athletes, and the coach.
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