Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Kona and the awesomeness of race marshal's

Things just picked up.

For anybody reading this who has somehow stumbled across this by accident and not through my Twitter page or through being part of my family or friends then the big news is that I’m off to Hawaii, or at least the WTC have had my $575 so I’d better be or it’s a big old waste of money. Every Ironman I’ve done has been aiming towards the possibility of a Kona slot, except this one. I’d even said that I’d turn the slot down if it came along and I said it again when we realised that I’d got one. I have also said in the past though that I’m not sure I’d have the balls to turn down the offer if it came along, it turned out that was the correct statement especially when word got out I’d qualified and was thinking of saying no. The wave of support/abuse was overwhelming and however it came the message was always the same. I HAD to go to Hawaii, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I couldn’t turn down. Family, friends and clubmates have been amazing since the race, especially since I mentioned that the cost factor was one of the reasons I was considering not going. The offers and ideas of fund raising ideas have been immense, if a little uncomfortable. This is after all a lifestyle choice and especially in these tough financial times the idea of other people chipping in for me to take Shelly on a holiday to the sun doesn’t seem right. Still, I guess it just goes to show what sort of friends I have and if they’re willing to help me along the way by organising some way to fund raise then I’d be stupid not to throw myself into it. So long as I can give something back in some way it wouldn’t be too bad, I guess it’s only what Pro’s do for their sponsors all the time. Having said all that of course if anybody reading this is part of a big company (or knows of one) that would like to help me along the way then bring it on.................... hey, if you don’t ask ;-) So back to this event and my seemingly constant disappointment which seemed to continue on the following day. It’s often the little things that make the biggest impression and in previous races the day after race day has always been a celebration. You’d collect your Finishers Certificate and there would always be a newspaper with a full listing of race results and a few pics in it, then after the Awards Banquet (which has never been worth the money you pay for guests) you’d get a short DVD with clips of the race on it. It meant you left the race with a good feeling, no matter how good or bad your race had gone. This year there was nothing, not even that standard feature of ANY Iron Distance event the finishers certificate/photo. Sure you can have that Finishers pic, but like everything else it’ll cost you (Shelly bought the lot).
I don’t want to go out on a downer though so I’ve left the best until last – THE RACE!!! If you’re thinking of going to Ironman Florida next year then you’re too late, it’s full! It is worth it though and I’d love to come back again some time, the people here on race day make it all worthwhile. Whatever my thoughts about the pre and post event, whether it’s lost some of the sparkle or whether (as I hope) this year was just a glitch down to the construction problems and new organisers finding their feet come race day it’s brilliant. From the moment you roll up to get body marked nobody can do too much for you, there are mechanics and all sorts of helpful folk in transition pre race and the beach is full of happy smiley faces. The wetsuit strippers and T1/T2 folks will do whatever you want, including smothering you from head to toe in suncream if needed. Out onto the bike and the draftbusters were plentiful and doing as good a job as they could against the packs of cheating bastards that formed in places. They’ll never get them all and no doubt the ones that do get caught will feel hard done by because there are others that get away, but if you ride legal you won’t get caught – they’ve never had reason to pull me up. Wonder why!!! I carried all my nutrition on my bike so saw very little of the bike course aid stations but people I spoke to after said they were every bit as helpful as the run stations.
Out onto the run is where the real work begins, it’s where you hit the wall, it’s where you start getting annoyed and angry if it’s going wrong. It’s hard to get annoyed and angry though when you’ve got people shouting for you all the way around the course. There are feed stations closer than every mile which are quite often imaginatively dressed up with a theme, inbetween these stations there are often more groups of folks out supporting and cheering, often dressed up in costume. There’s always something to keep your mind off the pain, then of course there are plenty of your fellow athletes out there suffering with you but still giving encouraging words if you’re down to a walk. Finally there are the Police!!! They probably have the most thankless job. The run and to a lesser extent the bike take in plenty of road junctions and the traffic becomes very congested later in the race. YOU are their top priority and you never have to worry about your safety when crossing. They’re not the most sociable on race day, but they’ve got a serious job to do and I can imagine they get more than their fair share of abuse from disgruntled motorists. They quite often get overlooked when the thanks are given out, probably because it’s their job and they’re paid for being there. I stopped and thanked a couple that I saw after the race and they seemed to be genuinely appreciative and as proud of the race as anybody else there. No doubt they wouldn’t remember me being nice to them if they pulled me up for speeding though ;-)
That’ll do for now. A final bit of closure on Ironman Florida, I’ve a few people to thank but I’ll leave that until I’m back home and I can find links to them that I can put on here – no doubt I’ll still forget people though. For now though the challenge is to let Shell enjoy the last few days of her holiday while avoiding the worst of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ida that’s drifting through. She was so looking forward to some beach time this week too – ooops!! At least she’s got some beach time to look forward to next October ;-)
When and Whenever you're out there racing, say thanks to some marshals on your way round. It's not going to break your race and a bit of praise might mean they'll be back to support you again next year. They give up their time so that you can have a great race. RESPECT THEM!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And I quote from your race report....
'and I'd love to come back again some time'.......
Perhaps that sometime could be when I am ready to do it with you :)
Would be nice to do an IM with my bro again.
Excellent write up although I am surprised the pic of marshals you went back to thank never made it on here.