Triathletes Are Not Selfish


Connor Pulling His Brother Cayden

There is this underlying theme that triathletes are selfish because of the amount of time necessary to train.  There is the 4-6 hour bike ride on the weekends, there is the 2-3 hour run as well.  There are hours on end spent at the gym swimming and lifting.  Let’s not forget the amount of money it takes to participate in this sport.  To race an Ironman you are going to fork over $600+ to WTC for the pleasure of putting your body through what is one of the longest and most grueling endurance events known to mankind.

This is all true but I have also found triathletes to be the most self-less of all athletes I have met.  As background I have played sports since I could walk.  I played baseball and football as a youth. I started running as an adult and in between I was on college intramural squads so I have seen my share of athletes and the triathlete is willing to do anything to help.  It is amazing what a tight-knit community this group is and everyday I am amazed by the acts of kindness that go on.

This past Sunday I had an 8 mile run at lactate threshold pace.  I went out at 7:30a with Robert and pumped out those 8 miles in less than an hour and let’s just say by the afternoon I was spent.  I needed a nap and at 2pm told Karen that I was going in the bedroom to lay down.  I flipped on the TV and turned directly to ESPN hoping golf would be on so that would put me to sleep quickly.  As I turned to ESPN2 I saw that E:60 was on and I stopped to watch.  I love documentaries and when those documentaries are about sports then I am at my pique of curiosity.  The first segment went by and I can’t recall what it was about, but then I thought I saw a Swim, Bike, Run logo as Karen and I were talking.  When they came back from commercial sure enough they were going to be discussing triathlon.  I had no clue what they were going to be talking about but I wanted to watch.

The first thing you see is kids.  My initial reaction was this was going to be about what is too young to start your endurance, specifically triathlon career.  As the story unfolds you find out that it is about a brotherly bond between Cayden Long and Connor Green.  The story is so touching and just incredible.  Cayden has cerebral palsy and for him there are activities that he cannot participate in.  Cayden watches as Connor plays football.  Cayden watches everything because he can’t walk or speak.  What Cayden can do is swim, bike and run thanks to his brother Connor’s unselfish approach to him.

Connor wanted to bound with Cayden as the story is told.  He wanted to make sure that his brother was able to be like any other kid.  I watched this documentary in awe, and not because of what Connor was doing.  We have seen this with Dick and Rick Hoyt but because of how young Connor was.  For him to have a sense of what his brother needed was amazing.  His sense that his brother was different but that it didn’t matter astounded me.  This young man is teaching a lot of adults what it is like to be selfish and caring.

The best line of the entire documentary comes when the boys’ Dad asks Connor if he would do triathlon without Cayden so he wouldn’t always come in last place.  Connor’s response was: NO.  Just purely incredible.

Read about them in this post at the Nashville Kids Triathlon.

Also, watch the E:60 piece or click this link to access if player is not working.

Here are two other videos that you can watch as well:


I know my feelings the first time I read and watched Dick and Rick Hoyt race and those have been flooded over by the story of Cayden and Connor.  That is a truly amazing story about a 7-year-old and can teach us all to lend a helping hand.

What Selfless Act Have You Done Recently?


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  1. Kevin says:

    Wow! Simply outstanding!

    You can just see the excitement and fun on each of their faces.
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  2. BDD says:

    This gave me chills, thanks for sharing
    BDD recently posted..Happy Valentines Day – Who Do YOU Love?My Profile

    • CTER says:

      No problem. I thought you would like it. I watched the E:60 video on ESPN twice yesterday while putting the post together and it is just as awesome the 2nd time as the first.

  3. Christina says:

    Absolutely moving story. Most days I just try to keep my children from pestering each other into screaming tears – this brotherly love is amazing!
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  4. Absolutely amazing story! Thank you for sharing this. I recently was part of a study on female endurance athletes and the main hypothesis is that endurance athletes (contrary to popular belief) are more involved in their workplaces, families, communities than non-endurance athletes. I know for myself that triathlon has made me less selfish by making me a better human being. Fantastic post!

    • CTER says:

      I completely agree with you. I am far more engaged in my job and I think that is a result of not having the fear. We, as endurance athletes, have been through the ringer so making a phone call or a ‘hard’ decision no longer seems that difficult.
      CTER recently posted..Triathletes Are Not SelfishMy Profile

  5. I think triathletes (or anyone that passionate about something) are self absorbed. But being self absorbed doesn’t need to be outward facing, and that’s when people calling you selfish.

    I dunno what my last selfless act was and not sure I’d want to write it out anyway, it just was what it was and does not require a footnote. I try to live my life by one rule which is – “don’t be a douche”.

    I’ll tell you what I am absolutely thrilled about though – Ian is friends with some of the special needs kids at school. No one said anything to him, it was just a natural thing. Though he’s old enough to see the differences and has realized that they don’t matter. When we talk about his friends as a whole he doesn’t ever make a distinction. It’s total transparency. I love this.
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  6. Shannon says:

    Love this! As a mom, it is so touching. We all need to embrace this spirit and I wholeheartedly agree with Rose’s post above!!
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  7. Jill says:

    These made my day – thanks!! I also don’t think athletes (tri or otherwise) are so much selfish as they are determined. I know I spend a great deal of time on me when I have to train but because of that, I like to make sure the rest of my free time is spent with those that need me.
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  8. jess says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I couldn’t keep a dry eye. I am sharing this with everyone I know. I am amazed by this kid.

  9. lindsay says:

    i’ve heard of these kids before – amazing!!
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  10. Bob says:

    Pretty amazing child there, well beyond his years in what matters in life
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  11. Ross says:

    I agree that those long training session can be full of comradeship and definitely not for the selfish. The fact that people say us triathletes are more selfish than the rest does make me more conscious that I should spend time with the kids and the wife though so if anything it is a good thing!
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