Registration was on Wednesday, and our bike check in was on Friday. I went down to transition with my housemate, Iainbio, and the check in was seamless. There are approximately 5,000 volunteers who fly in from all over the world to come and help out on the day. Many came from the States, some came from Europe, and the pregnant wife of one our fellow Saffa guys also volunteered. At check in, you are assigned a volunteer who walks with you to rack your bike, explains what route to run around the pier, where to change, walks you to your bag racking and then takes you back out to the exit.
All through race weekend there are volunteers at check-in, at registration, on the swim course, around town, on race day etc… it really is fantastic to see what these people do to make this race possible.
Leaving my race out of the story for now, we move onto the finish line party. A unique part of this race is that there are very few slow people. And I mean this with all due respect to those for whom finishing an Ironman is a challenge in itself. The race dynamic is that 40 odd male pros arrive in under 9 hours. Then about 25 females around the 9-hour mark, and then there is a steady stream of age groupers.
These are the fastest age groupers in the world – most of them have podiumed at one of the multitude of Ironman events and there is very little separating them on the day. However, there are still the mature categories, some physically challenged athletes, a few fundraising slots, and local athletes. From about 10:00 pm, most athletes have gone home to shower, and returned to celebrate these heroes. For me, this was a huge highlight. I saw an 84-year-old Japanese man I’d met at the Underpants Run cross the line with a few minutes to spare, and then he was followed by two 70-something females who were struggling to stay upright.
I’ll be writing a race recap shortly and get something out to you soon.