Monday, July 27, 2009

It Never Get's Old



"It never get's old" - I heard Mike Reilly say that as a multi-time finisher came down the chute yesterday afternoon. And he's right. There is something about these races. Perhaps it's the audacity of the distances. I have been to many IM events over the years going back to my first in 1989, as an athlete, as a journalist, as a spectator, as an event sponsor, race announcer, TV Commentator, spousal supporter etc . . and Mike's right - it never seems to get old. Yesterday at the 11th IMLP race that was indeed the case. The race, the drama, the emotion, the challenge, . . it was all there in spades.

IM race days put you in some weird time vacumn. If you are involved at any level, you are up at an insanely early hour in the morning and you are on-the-go until midnight that night, yet the day seems to go by in a flash. There is never any time that you are thinking, that things are taking a long time. You always want each of all the many and blurred moments in the day to just keep going on and on.

Some highlights/comments:

- Huge shout-out and congratulations to Tereza Macel. No question the race of the day. First out of the water in the Pro Race and first onto the bike then duking it out with the top men deep into the bike. This was a BIG win for her and a massive jump up in her performance. I will also note that this was the first real big triathlon race win for the Cervelo P4. Let the flames begin!

- Thank you to the weather. On the whole it was pretty good. But Mother nature did decide to dish out a bit of everything on race day to make it interesting. Monsoon rains right at the start of the swim and early in the bike - had many thinking about a repeat of last year. Then clearing. Then sunny. Then humid. Then windy. Then threatening rain again, but back to sun for the rest of the day. Maybe they should change the name of IMLP to the Weatherman!! :) You get a bit of everything here!

- The WTC continues to produce the best, big event triathlons in the sport. It's been a year of significant changes behind the scenes, but again, the massive logistics and all the details were taken care of, and well in hand with RD Jeff Edwards, his team and the WTC.

- I continue to be amazed at the growth, the enthusiasm and the passion of the people in this sport. Supposedly, we are suffering from the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, but if you live in the triathlon bubble, you would have no idea of what's going on in the outside world. Maybe this is a good thing. Perhaps it's not. Who knows? Thank you to all of those passionate and amazing triathletes.

- Onto the dark side for a bit. Never underestimate, the challenge of the Ironman distance - this race has humbled and torn to shreds some of the fittest and best endurance athletes on the planet. It's not something to take lightly. Again, we saw a lot of that yesterday. Many falling far behind their expectations and plans. However, no matter what happens, no matter the time on the clock or the place in the results sheet, if you swam, cycled and ran that far in a day, you have really done something special. In more Reilly-speak - " You are an Ironman"!!

- Finally, for the first time ever, and I have seen a lot of these things over the years, I got really, and I mean really, caught up in the drama and the emotion of the final finisher(s) and the drive and the guts that it takes to get to the finish line of an Ironman. I won't go into Matthew Long's whole story. Words are hard to come by to describe what he's been through. The WTC gave Matt, my wife, Paolina Allan's original race number( #43) at the last minute and moved her to #45. MissP was just smashed, after her race(after finishing a well-earned 5th place in the woman's race and getting a spot for Ironman Hawaii), but we were sitting on the side of the road, about 2 miles out from the finish watching the last finishers after 11:00pm and along comes Matt. Paolina goes out on the road and starts walking along with Matt( Picture above). Tells him the story of the switched numbers. They embrace. Paolina tells Matt, that when she was at her worst during her race, she thought of Matt. That and the number change gave her strength and spirit. We both fell in with many others and started walking/running along with Matt to the finish line. It was the least we could do. We all supported and cheered him every step of the way over that last little bit right to the line just under the time cut-off. Both MissP and I stood there at the finish line with tears running down our face. Emotional stuff, to be sure.

Indeed - It never gets old!

Thanks IMLP. Thanks WTC and thanks to the Town of Lake Placid.

5 comments:

arthur said...

thanks for this blog post, this is why i love this sport

Kieran said...

Steve, although Matt's story was amazing, he wasn't the last finisher. That honour belongs to Paul Goldstone who finished at 17:00:00. The volunteers at the last aid station dropped what they were doing and ran with him to the entrance of the oval. We were in tears when we heard that he'd finished on time.

brotherPaul said...

Very well written Fleck.

Thanks for the caravan Kieran. HUGE lift it was. If I'm able to find a slot for LP 2010, The first round is on me.
As in your blog, fleck, this hobby, is like the mafia. Just when you think you might've had enough + you're out, It pulls you back in, mostly w/ just the Karma + positive energy from the race directors to the oh so important volunteers and host venues.
Sincerely,
Paul N. Goldstone
'I run to stop MS'
www.mytritraining.net
IMLP 09' 16:59:59.86

Fleck said...

Thanks for the kind words folks. Yes, Paul you were the last finisher. How could I forget you. Closest ever to 17:00 I believe Well done.

Best regards,

Steve

Tony Verow, MD said...

Fleck,

great stuff sir ! Will you be at IMC ? I may be spectating, always enjoy the drama re the last place finisher. Cheers !