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Published: March 12th 2011
Saturday 5th March – the day of the Ironman. We had put the alarm on for 6am but when we jumped out of bed and looked outside we were met with a thoroughly miserable scene – torrential rain! To our credit we didn’t even consider creeping back under the sheets but instead donned our anoraks, fished out our one umbrella and gamely set off. We wondered how the athletes could possibly cope with such weather. A 3.8 kilometre swim probably wouldn’t daunt them as they would get wet anyway but riding a bike for 180 kms and then running a marathon surely would make a lot of entrants think twice?
Well, the event is not called Ironman for nothing but the fact is that women swim, cycle and run exactly the same distance as the men but an event called IronPeople doesn’t have the same ring to it. We made our way to the end of the road to watch what we thought might be a diminished field swimming in the lake. We saw the elite athletes swim back along the course as they had already started by the time we were out and about, but we arrived just in
time to see the mass start and what an incredible sight it was. We don’t know how many had entered and how many actually started but, to us, everyone must have been there as there wasn’t any room in the water for anyone else! The rain continued to be torrential as we made our way along to where they would exit the water and run to collect their bikes. I was very soggy by now (Graham was hogging the brolly) so I decided to make my way back to the motel. On the way I was passed by the early elite cyclists as they started their trip out into the country on the first of two huge laps. They were already quite spread out and came by in ones and twos. Graham, though, was determined to see as much as he could so he strolled up to watch the run between the water and the bikes and waited long enough to see the first few hundred of the mass starters heading to collect their bikes (unfortunately I still had the camera!). Eventually he followed me back towards the motel but not before the cycling phase was well and truly underway.
By the time he got to the end of our road they were going by a dozen at a time and being greeted by loud music and some cheerleaders who were providing as much encouragement as the weather would allow. The scene was reminiscent of the London Marathon when Graham ran many years ago. I had got out of my ringing wet clothes and had a shower but Graham persuaded me to go back out for a while just to experience the electric atmosphere. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, I love all sporting events, but the rain was just relentless.
We were both amazed at the variety of athletes involved both in stature and nationality. Yes the elite athletes were all superbly fit and looked every inch Ironmen and Ironwomen but the shapes, sizes and ages of some of the “ordinary” mortals made you wonder how they were going to survive. The determination and camaraderie amongst them all was clearly evident. Also, it was truly an international event but with a noticeably large number of Japanese entrants.
In due course we both retreated to the motel again to dry off and to grab some lunch. I checked
Canadian Scott Curry
an early leader on the bike section
the computer and found up to the minute information about the leaders so we were able to identify when the beginning of the marathon run would start. Times were a little slower than normal because of the weather but we timed our next trip to the end of the road perfectly to watch the leaders run by on the first of four legs which made up the marathon. At the same time, some of the slower athletes were still going by on their bikes to start the second lap of the cycle leg – still 90 kms to go before they started their marathon!!! But the leading men and women were making it look very easy – it was hard to believe that they had already been racing for 6 hours or so. We watched the leading men pass by our road on each of the 4 marathon legs, getting soaked every time we went out, and then we finally retreated to the motel to dry out and to catch up on all the results the easy way - on the internet. New Zealanders specialise in this event and it came as no surprise that the men’s winner was Cameron
Aussie Mirinda Carfrae
who finished second in the ladies competition
Brown (in 8 hours 31 minutes 7 seconds) who had won it on nine previous occasions. He was several minutes behind at the start of the marathon but is an exceptional distance runner and easily overhauled Canadian Scott Curry to take the lead. His nearest challenger was to be another New Zealander, Terenzo Bozzone, who also overhauled the Canadian but finished several minutes behind the winner. The ladies race was far more competitive, made so by a couple of punctures on the cycling leg to the two favourites, Australian Miranda Carfrae and defending champion Joanna Lawn (NZL). This gave another New Zealander (formerly a Brit and an established international tri-athlete) Samantha Warriner the chance to forge ahead and just hang on for victory in her first attempt at the full Ironman distance (coincidently it took her exactly one hour longer than Cameron Brown with her time of 9 hours 31 minutes 7 seconds).
Later on in the evening, with it continuing to pour with rain, we ventured into town. Remarkably we could still see game runners struggling by on their marathon. It never ceases to amaze us how seemingly ordinary people find the strength, mental and physical, to compete
in competitions like this.
Suitably humbled we went out for a nice roast dinner in a café specialising only in roasts and eventually made it back to the motel to begin our preparations for the following day when we were to make our way back to Auckland.
Tot: 0.079s; Tpl: 0.032s; cc: 12; qc: 28; dbt: 0.014s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb