Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I wanna be an Ironman!!!

I'm hooked. I had the best time there spectating/volunteering. For those who don't know, the Forster Ironman is a 3.8k swim/180k ride/42k run. There's only 2 Ironman races in Australia, and Forster attracts about 1500 competitors!


The day started early, and I cycled into the swim start to watch everyone head off. I found some friends and we watched the pro's and age groupers start, then got a good spot on the road to watch everyone come out on their bikes. We were quite interested to see one guy come out with a flat on his single and have a spectator help him change it and even pump it up for him with their floor pump!! If that's not blatant outside assistance, I don't know what is.

After that I headed back into town to the bike course, and stood halfway between the turnaround and the corner heading back out through Forster. As soon as all of the guys from my club came through, we went to get our spot near the bike/run change tent. It was a great spot there, we could see people getting off the bike, and heading out on the run course and back again.

It was a great race spectator wise with the leaders being so close off the bike, then watching Macca (Chris McCormack)and Lisa Bentley just blitz it on the run. We really enjoyed ourselves cheering people on! I tried for an hour trying to read people's race numbers as they got close, then looking up their names in the competitor booklet and cheering them on by name. Most people were stuffed from the small hill, and just looked at me with a really confused look on their face....


My job for the afternoon was to "catch" athletes as they crossed the finish line. Everyone puts so much into it, and it's such a strain, that people just cramp up, or their bodies just completely stop as they cross the finish line, and they need help just getting to the recovery/medical area. So as soon as someone crosses the line, one catcher throws a towel around them and grabs one arm, and another cather comes from the other side and grabs the other arm. Often people are collapsing by the time you get to them, but generally they're fine, and are happy to have you there with them just in case!

At about 3:30/4:00 I went over the the finishers area as Macca had already come across the line, so figured I should "get to work". I got a couple of good pics of people interviewing Macca while I was there, and also of Luke Bell who was crossing the line just as I got there.

I joined the line of catchers as the pro's started crossing the finish line and managed to catch Stu Bardsley from our club who was doing his first IM as a pro, and managed to do a 20 minute PB!! He gave me a hug, and was just so pleased with how he went. I think he was pleased to have a familiar face on the finish line as he yabbered on to me for a while about the race and how he went. I was so proud of him - had tears in my eyes when he crossed the line. For a guy who doesn't have a coach, doesn't have any other guys at his level to train with, works full time as a bike mechanic and doesn't exactly earn a fortune, or have sponsors falling over him trying to give him gear, he's done such a great job.

There were a few scary moments. I'd just said to someone that I hadn't had anyone collapse yet, and of course Murphys Law kicked in and the next person was incredibly woozy, threw up (all over his finishers medal), then passed out. We grabbed a wheelchair and we had to try and drag this dead weight into the wheelchair to get him straight to the medical tent. He was just completely spent and was delirious and kept yelling at us to leave him alone and let him just lie down on the ground. Poor bugger... Hope he was ok in the end!

The other scary moment was when another guy I knew collapsed in front of me, and I just managed to grab him before he hit the ground. He would have have some nasty scratches on his face if I hadn't have recognised him and gone up to say hi....

It really was just such a fun place to be. There was so much going on, and I got to be there when my friends crossed the line and give them big hugs and make sure they got whatever they needed. I also got to go out into the finishers chute to do a guard of honour for when the last person crossed the line, and again for when the guy who missed cutoff came across.

I was completely exhausted by this stage, as well as covered in hundreds of other people's sweat (mmm....), so finally got to go home where everyone was chatting about their days, and we finally dragged ourselves to bed around midnight, tired but very content.


I thought the awards dragged on a bit, but it was still good. Everyone got the chance to thank the organisers and volunteers and recognise the multi finishers. I thought Lisa and Chris' speeches were good, and I was pleased that they won, they were both incredibly excited about it! Funniest thing was when some chick who sang the National Anthem at the race start also sang Simply the Best to them at the end of the awards night!! The poor things looked so embarrassed....

Then the meltdown. Now THAT was fun!!! All my piker tri buddies went home, but I figured I'd find a bunch of others that I knew, so wandered about and found people from the Transitions triathlon website that I frequent. From there I met so many other people throughout the evening, and after a couple of drinks was feeling very happy and loving the atmosphere of the place.

Great moments in the club include the man now known as "stumpy" streaking through the club at around 2:30am, and the sight of Macca completely pissed, but still chatting to absolutely everyone who approached him, happy to chat to whoever, pose for photos, and profusely apologising for the state he was in. It was good to see him relaxed and just enjoying himself and joining in the celebrations with the rest of us nobody's!

I finally got to bed at about 3:30am, was up again by 7:30am, and was all packed ready to head off by about 9am! Made it home to Canberra safely, and have many many fond memories of the last official IM in Forster.

Now to think about qualifying for Port Mac next year....

1 comment:

Carolyne said...

Scary / Exciting about wanting to do an Ironman Sarah! It is so infectious, although the look of pain (mental rather than physical) on those at the back of the pack during the marathon is palpable.

Great report though, look forward to seeing you around.