2011 Ironman WA Photos & Story

Monday, Dec 05, 2011 at 15:27

TriathlonOz - Michelle

Yesterday's Ironman WA saw around 1300 entrants front up to start the 226km race. Amongst them, were some 44 members of the North Coast tri club, many doing it for the first time, others for the 8th time or more. As a member of North Coast I was there to cheer, encourage and support those that I've watched commit endless hours of training for the past 18 weeks and I wanted to be there to share their moments of exhilaration when they cross the finish line to the words "You are an Ironman".

This was the first time I've watched an ironman race and I tell you it's a BIG day for everyone. No amount of words can tell you how much preparation needs to go into the endurance training for this event. Even as a spectator, the day is long, hot and tiring. But the excitement and ironman fever gives you strength to endure to the end.

I can describe race day from my perspective. I didn't have anyone in my family racing but I knew the stories and struggles of many that had made it there today. Some had very specific time goals, others had only the goal to get to the finish. I was particuarly keen to see the races of TriathlonOz Members Jenny A and Fiona L.

3.8km Swim

Race day started at 5.30am with the pro field heading out along the Busselton Jetty in their red caps. The leaders were just starting to approach the end of the jetty when 15 minutes later the mass age group start in the white caps took off at 5.45am precisely.

Water conditions were not bad, with just a slight breeze and a small amount of chop but pleasant enough. No one really knew what the weather was going to do - it was a very pleasant start to the day but rain was forecast and high temps were expected.

T1 Transition from Swim to Bike

Coming out of the water, we noticed that swim times were generally slightly slower than for previous years. The course cut-off time for the swim is 2 hours 20 minutes and I stayed for nearly 2 hours and saw all the North Coast competitors come through. After running through the swim exit showers competitors ran about 400m on flat terrain covered with red carpet then a long grassed straight into the change tents in transition. Many competitors dropped items on the run to the tent - googles, swim caps, and many Garmins, which of course they had to run back for!#%&* People dropping Garmins did so because they unstrapped them from their wrist to enable pulling their arms out of their long sleeved wetsuits... something to practise perhaps?

180km Bike

The 3 lap bike course comprises a part of the 70.3 bike course from town out to the turnaround, but instead of returning to town, the Ironman course then nips out on Tuart Drive for another out and back loop before coming back to town via Layman Road. The cutoff time for the bike course is 10.5 hours and some competitors took every second of that. The day became very hot, and the breeze picked up to make it even more challenging. Technical officers on motor scooters were out to enforce the 12 metre no-draft zone and littering.

After all the age groupers had set off on their first lap, myself and the group of spectators I shared the day with had breakfast at the Esplanade Hotel overlooking Marine Terrace so we watched the pros return from their first lap and because breakfast took so long, we also saw a good few of the age groupers make their return lap also. At 10am we then went for a swim from the south side of the jetty and made a triangle course. The water felt beautifully refreshing, and I was glad of my wetsuit. We were then in the perfect position to watch the first pros start on the run course so stayed put to watch the runners from a fantastic vantage point.

42.2km Marathon Run

We had scorching heat, rain drizzles, and fast moving clouds throughout the late morning and as the spectators huddled for shade or shelter, the ironmen and women held fast to their goals. As the day dragged on, it got hotter and as the runners got to the pointy end of the marathon, it was apparent that it was taking its toll. For some all the preparation paid out. For others, niggles tried to beat them. For most, they fought against the pain and focussed on the finish and the words "you are an Ironman".

The only cut-off for the marathon is the overall race time of 17 hours. The sooner you can get on the run course, the more time you have to complete it. But the run is where it either all comes together or falls totally apart. Despite the conditions some great run times were made.

I tried to make it to the very end but by 6pm I was suffering from heat stroke, lack of food and water! Pathetic effort from moi, in comparison to those ironmen and women - very impressed with all those finishers.

Congratulations to all the competitors. Whether your goal was a PB or to finish, you have all shown enormous courage and should be proud of your achievement. My personal viewpoint is that Ironman has knobs on it, so you will not see me signing up on December 9 for IMWA 2012.

Here's a small sample of the zillions of pics I took on the marathon. I'll try to upload more when I get more time.

More Start Photos

More Swim Exit Photos

More Run Photos

Some wish for it, others work for it!
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