Dare2tri Volunteer Profile: Fred Pratt

Get to know Fred Pratt, longtime Dare2tri volunteer, and training/racing expert, as he provides answers for the Q&A below:


1. What's your story?

I’m a retired journalist from Alaska, and I’ve been doing triathlons since about 1980. I’ve been a competitive runner since my junior high school track team, I was primarily a cross-country ski racer in Alaska and I stopped counting the marathons I’ve done decades ago. I’m also an orienteering competitor. My partner, Jan, and I have maintained an apartment in Uptown since 2002, although we’ve sublet it often to go live in Madrid, Florence, Paris and Ann Arbor, as well as going back to Alaska for a year in 2008.


2. What is your specific involvement with dare2tri?

I assist people in training and racing. I ride a bike with wheelchair and handcycle athletes to take care of mechanical problems, show them safe training routes and give them more visibility in traffic. I help newbys get over small problems, like bike handling and managing open water swims. I explain how we set up transition areas and why we do things like wear numbers on a number belt or do certain steps in a particular order, such as putting on a helmet before getting on a bike. I particularly enjoy using the various tools and techniques I’ve learned to give athletes confidence to get past small barriers, like the tight chest that can cause a panic reaction the first time someone swims with a wetsuit, or confidence in handling a bicycle.


3. How long have you been involved with dare2tri?

Since the beginning. Keri Serota gave a short talk seeking volunteers at a Chicago Tri Club meeting when dare2tri first formed, and Lisa Krejcik and I started showing up at the Thursday afternoon workouts the very next week.


4. Why did you get involved with dare2tri?

I’m 67 years old, so I can’t run PRs anymore, but working with newbies at the Chicago Tri Club and the dare2Tri athletes lets me use my experience to help other people do PRs, which I find is just as much fun.


5. Is there a specific moment while with dare2tri that sticks out in your mind? If so, what is it?

Driving back from the first day of the first camp at Pleasant Prairie, Lisa and I were talking about an athlete who had struggled and overcome a problem that day. We were talking about how we admired the way she had met the challenge, but then I mentioned, “Of course everything is a challenge to her. She drives up to a building and wonders how she’s going to get into it and get around inside it. She goes to a restaurant and wonders if there are tables accessible to a wheelchair.” This brought home to us the special kind of people that dare2tri athletes are. As one of the coaches at the first camp said, “Triathlons are so tough, I don’t see how you able bodied people can do them.”


6. What would you like others to know about dare2tri?

I call dare2tri’s growth over the past four years a “catastrophic success.” The program has exploded in size, but still remained manageable, due to a special synergy among the four leaders. The combination of Keri’s management skills, Stacee’s coaching, Melissa’s enthusiasm and national exposure, and Dan’s professional network makes dare2tri the model for this type of program. Because of them, a donation of money, equipment or time to dare2tri pays huge dividends in results.


7. What does dare2tri mean to you?

I don’t do this because I’m an altruistic person (I’m not), but because it’s fun and rewarding. I get a special charge from seeing the grin on a dare2tri athlete's face when they cross the finish line; a bigger thrill than just finishing another race by myself. I think I’ve added 100 Facebook friends from the dare2tri community in the past four years.


8. Is there anything else you would like to share?

New volunteers ask me how to refer to people, as “handicapped,” “disabled” or “physical challenged.” I tell them that I wonder just as hard what to call myself. I’m supposedly “able bodied,” but I could never do a triathlon using only my arms. I can’t call someone “handicapped” when they can bench press twice as much as I can. I just call them “athletes” because that’s what they are.