Monday, November 23, 2009

IM Arizona: Spectator Report


I think that I said that 5 or 10 times while my wife and I were watching all of the athletes race Ironman Arizona. “Wow” followed by some random triathlon fact. Or, even better, a random math calculation. “You know dear, the people who are still on the bike right now (3pm) will probably not get done until 9pm."

As promised, I spent most of Sunday in sunny Tempe, AZ (try to find a cloud in one of my pictures! It is like Wheres Waldo) watching the Ironman Arizona triathlon. It was not only the first triathlon that I've seen, but also the first time that I've gone to a race without going to specifically watch someone. I've volunteered, but never just went to hang out. That said, it was a BLAST. Here are a few of the highlights.

Speaking of volunteers, IM AZ had a TON of them. I believe that I heard somewhere around 3,000. For example, here is a guy whose sole job was to tell people when to turn around and do another loop or when to go to transition. His shirt was very descriptive: Pointer.

Since this was a loop race, it was hard to tell who was "winning". Moreover, I had a hard time telling if someone was doing well and looking like they should after 90 miles on the bike, or if they had only gone 30 miles on the bike and were having a very VERY bad day. Mostly I just judged people by the cover and assumed that if they had a teardrop alien shaped helmet, they were probably doing really well. Obviously, this guy is smoking fast.

IMAZ had lead motorcycles for the lead man / woman, and lead mountain bikes for men/women 2-5, but it was still very hard to follow. Here I am making my Ironman TV debut. Oh, I guess the leader, Jordan Rapp, (guy in the red tri-suit) was in there too.

The most amazing part was transition. It was quite a scene. One minute it was empty and quiet, the next, controlled chaos. The scene in pictures (click to make larger):

Leader coming into transition, shoes off

Bags, lots and lots of bags

Mostly empty bike racks

Mostly full bike racks!

Changing area for T2. Note that I didn't get near the womens change entrance. You're welcome.

Running shortly after transition

Watching transition made me so tired and hungry that I decided that I needed to do some carbo loading. Frozen yogurt. Glorious.

My wife and I cheered for all of the triatheletes, but since the day was getting a bit long we decided to go check out the leaders. We weren't there in time to see the winner Jordan Rapp cross the finish line, but we did get to see him in come into transition (see above). We did however get to see the female winner, Samantha McGlone, cross the finish line and set a new course record!

Overall the day was a blast. While I don't want to sign up for an Ironman right now, I could see myself wanting to do it in the future. Maybe during a mid life crisis. I'll drive there in my mid life crisis convertible!

In closing, to all of the Ironmen who may stumble across this post. A few questions from a guy who mostly runs:
  • Which part is the hardest? Of the bikers and runners that I saw, it seemed like the runners were the ones who were grimacing the most.
  • How much do those alien shaped helmets REALLY help? I would think that the discomfort of having all of that heat trapped in your head would offset any sort of air advantage.
  • HOW do you become "pro". There was an age group guy who came in 4th or 5th overall. So, I guess they aren't the fastest all of the time, right?
  • How often do you get flat tires? It seems like that was a major worry for everyone. (I guess there is a rule about having someone else carry your bike to the aid station? I felt bad for this lady.)


Ulyana said...

Oh man, you are making me want to do one.

Well, for now, an olympic distance tri would feel like an ironman, so maybe that's what I'll do next year.

Flats - that's my biggest fear. I got one during my first tri, and then that same wheel was completely out of air after my second tri (I guess I'm lucky it didn't blow as I was racing b/c two flats during the only two tris I've done - now, that'd be bad luck).

Hmmm, I've definetely never did the spectathlete thing. I'm missing out for sure. It'd be good to support other runners.

Pat said...

I missed it this year. My two favorite things last year were watching the finish line in the last hour. Very inspirational. Watching were the spectators cross the running course. One section was very busy and it was like watching nascar for the crashes.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

WHAT!? You didn't sign up for one while there in the 'heat of the moment?!' Having just learned how to change my own tire, I REALLY hope that I never get one in a race situation. I think it's great that you went out there without anyone specific to watch! Looking forward to the answer your get about the most difficult part -- I've only done two small ones, adn for me it's my legs from bike to run, they burn like crazy. Forget the rubber or brick feeling, mine are on fire... My legs suck though, so it's probably just me.

RunnuRMark said...

Here's my big, burning question...what was the temp like throughout the day? I also think wearing a non-ventilated helmet for 100+ miles would really suck. I'm pretty sure I'll never get one of those. But I'm also pretty sure I'd never need one :)

aron said...

i bet that was sooooo amazing to watch!!! i want to go spectate one :)

sRod said...

Flats seems to be a big, big problem. However, they remain mysterious to me.