USA Triathlon News Blogs My Story In Good Company

In Good Company

By Catie and Charlotte | Jan. 27, 2015, 4:17 p.m. (ET)

catie and charlotteTwelve years is a long time to have a friend. This is especially true if you also happen to be only 12 years old. Catie Fee and Charlotte Tomkinson have known each other since the beginning. They napped together as babies, twirled in princess dress-ups as toddlers, and played rounds of “Say Say Oh Playmate” on car rides and camping trips as young kids. They enthusiastically waved homemade “Go Mom Go!” and “Go Dad Go!” signs at triathlons far and wide. Despite living some distance apart, they have kept each other close, offering encouragement, perspective, and just a little silliness when life gets hard. In 2014, they raced, as friends and competitors, in the mountain bike triathlon and had an epic day. Here is their story.

Catie’s Race

The mountain bike race at Wildflower 2014 was my first triathlon, but this was not the case with my friend Charlotte. We have been friends since birth, and for many years have come to cheer for our parents when they raced at Wildflower. Charlotte got into the sport a couple of years ago and did the mountain bike in 2013. When I saw her finish, I thought, I am so doing this next year.

So now it was next year and Charlotte and I were in the water, at the start in Harris Creek, ready to race the redesigned mountain bike course. Julie Moss counted down to the start of our wave, and we were off. Charlotte sped ahead of me on the swim and got out two minutes in front of me. I have always been more comfortable riding my mountain bike than swimming or running, so I passed Charlotte on the bike and started the run six minutes ahead of her. Once we were out on the course, though, she started to gain on me. I saw her running toward the turnaround just as I was leaving it. Knowing she had more running experience than I do, I realized that I had to step up my game if I wanted to maintain my shrinking lead.

About a mile later, at the top of the finishing chute, Charlotte ran up behind me, and then passed me. I heard several spectators yelling, “Come on, catch her!” and I knew I would give it my all to run her down. Down the chute I sprinted as hard as I could, and I caught her at the very last second, right at the finish line, resulting in an exact tie! It seemed like the perfect outcome — we had tied for first place in our 11-12 age group.

When the official results came out, the computer had ranked Charlotte above me. We knew this wasn’t right, since the computer also said that we both had the same time of 1:36:27. We decided to wait for the awards ceremony and see what happened. When Julie Moss called our names, she announced me in first place and Charlotte in second. We told her that we had the same time, so we both received gold medals and shared the top of the podium. What a great first triathlon! I can’t wait to come back and do it again in 2015!

Charlotte’s Race

Triathlon is my family sport, and I have been watching my parents participate at Wildflower since I was very young. I began to race sprint triathlons when I was 9, and it is my favorite thing to do. For years I told myself that I would participate at Wildflower, too, even though the mountain bike part intimidated me a little. In 2013, though, I was ready and I finally raced. It was a terrific experience, and I knew that I would sign up again in 2014.

Before I knew it I was standing in Lake San Antonio next to my lifelong friend, Catie. Our parents have known one another for 18 years, and we have been close friends since birth. Catie had signed up also, and we were racing against each other, as our birthdays are only three weeks apart.

Swimming is my best discipline, so I excelled there, exiting in front of Catie. She is a great cyclist, so she breezed through the bike portion. I didn’t have such an easy time. About a mile into the bike, my tires skidded on loose dirt, and I fell hard on some sharp rocks. My leg was pretty cut up, with blood trickling down my shin, but I pressed on.

By the time I got to T2, Catie was long gone. I didn't see her again until I was running up the final hill to the turnaround, and she was headed back down. We waved, and she said that I was almost there. Up to that point, I thought that my chances of overtaking her were slim, but when I saw how close I was, it made me want to run harder. I picked up the pace, and started to gain time. As I got closer to the finish line, though, I still could not see Catie and figured that my chances of catching her were next to nothing.

When I turned around the final bend and caught sight of the finish, there she was! I started sprinting as fast as I could. Halfway through the chute, I caught up to her and we were side by side, racing, trying to be the first to cross the line. About 10 feet from the finish line, I pulled ahead, but then she caught up again, and we crossed the line in a photo finish!

In our finisher picture, you can see that we stepped on the mat with the same time, 1:36:27. Even better, we shared the win in our 11-12 girls age group. It was a fabulous day for both of us, and a race we will never forget!

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