It’s 1988, two guys, a road trip, and one purpose: do a triathlon, just for the fun of it. Early that year, a good friend of mine and I decided to jump in a car and travel to a country triathlon. We picked a small, Olympic-distance race about 8 hours away. A race that was easily doable on an hour a day of training and a weekend of driving and camping. So we were off to Grand Prairie, Alberta on the May long weekend for a little friendly competition.
Race day was a scorcher, with no clouds. After Wayne and I crossed the finish line, he smiled and said, “Hey, let’s go to the Dairy Queen for some ice cream!” Later that day, on the drive home, Wayne looked over at me and without saying a word pulled into the next Dairy Queen. “You want another Blizzard?” I asked. “Yep!” was the answer. So we stopped again, had our second blizzard - enjoyed every last cold, smooth, thick drop of it. That hot race, cool treat experience would shape our fitness programs for the rest of our lives. We decided that every summer we’d commit to a Tour Du Dairy Queen road trip with a little friendly competition in a small-town triathlon thrown in for good measure.
We came up with the crazy idea that on the trip home, we’d challenge ourselves to stop at every DQ and have a Blizzard in every town and city along the way. Our record DQ trip was 9 Blizzards each! That’s right, the rules are you cannot pass a DQ, and you must stop and have a ceremonial DQ Blizzard. And so, we sought out different race locations each year, races that led us to places and different DQ franchises we wouldn’t normally visit.
As of 2012 we have completed 24 trips and consumed 93 blizzards each! Once back home, my wife takes a picture of Wayne and I wearing our finishers’ T-shirts, holding up a trophy-like stack of all the empty cups festooned with red spoons. That’s over $500 dollars worth of good old ice cream and priceless memories! In 1991 we were forced to make one major modification to the rules. After spending three hours hunting down every Dairy Queen in Seattle, we decided that one stop in a major metropolitan area would count as an official stop. Here’s an important tip to follow as well. Switch to fruit based Blizzards rather that those loaded with delicious, tempting chocolate candy – you can eat more in a row this way.
Over the years we have completed customer satisfaction surveys, sampled DQ treats from small, roadside operations, and from the big, new establishments. Heck, we’ve even done price and quality comparisons from one DQ to the next.
One year a friend of Wayne’s even supplied us with a list of all the Dairy Queens in Western Canada so we could map out our stops well in advance of our race. We wouldn’t want to miss a location or we might have to backtrack! One summer we even took a detour home because the longer route had considerably more DQs than the direct route. What we failed to calculate was the extra time this would take us and both missed work Monday morning, but compensated for this with a DQ Blizzard for breakfast. Some of our racing buddies eventually insinuated that the race was basically an excuse to eat ice cream. I think you’re beginning to get the picture.
Besides the stories, the friendship, and all the ice cream in the world, the reason we keep doing triathlons is for the fitness. This sport defines our training program, keeps us honest, and we keep each other motivated. Wayne has turned 65 years old, and I will soon be celebrating my 54th birthday. We’re in it for the long haul, it’s a lifestyle. Swimming, biking, running, and eating ice cream!
In my coaching practice, I have the opportunity to work with triathletes and during the summer we meet every Thursday night for an open water swim. Immediately after we congregate at the closet Dairy Queen to debrief, share training stories, and discuss race strategies over our Blizzards. It’s continues to be about hot races and cool treats.
I envision that one day, perhaps we’ll have a worldwide Dairy Queen racing team, contribute to charity, and help millions get and stay fit and have fun along the way. After five decades of age-group triathlon participation and a total of 186 Blizzards, I can honestly say that fitness and ice cream do go hand in hand. So, Wayne, where are we off to this year?