The other weekend we went down to Busselton for the Half Ironman to see our friend Jules do the bike leg in a team and a few friends compete in the Individual. Jules has been working through injuries for about two years now, and was madly excited about the event.
We are trying to keep some holiday time at work so we didn’t drive down until early Saturday morning and therefore missed the individual start.
Jeremy and I stood and chatted with Jules, Glen and Lorraine (team name: “It’ll be fun, she said”) waiting for the team start waves to begin. Everyone who was competing in a team were all standing around with us. Everyone was dressed ready to go, even the runners, numbers pinned on, as if their swimmer was coming back in 2 minutes and their cyclist would be back 10 minutes after that. The air buzzed with anticipation.
It came up to the team wave start time so Glen headed off and once they were underway everyone else trooped off with Jules to the team transition. I stayed at the swim start to watch the rest of the waves head off. I chatted to some guys who had inadvertently set up the team with everyone competing in their worst leg. The swimmer was the best runner, but couldn’t cycle, the cyclist couldn’t swim or run and the runner was a great cyclist but a worse swimmer than their swimmer. They were all really excited about their day, and were just out to have fun.
Once every team had started I headed over to the team transition area to meet up with the “It’ll be fun, she said” support crew before Glen came back in. While we waited I grabbed a coffee because the last caffeination Jeremy and I had had was at about 7am.
Glen and Jules did the timing band change over and she ran to her bike. I dashed to the other end of the transition area to take a photo of her running with her bike but she moved too fast for me to catch it. Once Jules had mounted her bike and pedalled off round the corner for her first 45km lap we drifted around and watched the Pro guys finish the Individual event; we’d missed first and second but saw the middle of the top ten and the award ceremony.
We walked around the Expo area to the run barricades to look out for some friends doing the Individual. We knew Jules’ likely speed so we could work out when we had to go back to the bike barricades to yell while she headed out to the second lap. Watching the run leg is one of my favourite spectator sports, you can see who is hurting and who is flying along. We’d made a list of competitors and race numbers and there were a few we wanted to try and see. Once the main ones had been spotted and yelled for we went to wait and bellow for Jules and then headed up to the Kent St Bakery for lunch.
We came back via the Expo area, a mix of shop tents and promotional tents. The Ironman and Half Ironman expo is always great for shopping because the shop tents usually have a discount bin of product that they want to move. This year I made the wonderful discovery that in 2XU tri shorts I’ve shrunk to a large, and they were only $20. Last year for $45 I got three technical t-shirts that have been my go-to running shirts this past year.
We scooted back over to the team transition area to look out for Jules’ return. We knew she’d possibly be slower on her second lap round because of the increase in wind but were pleased to see her come through in roughly the same order of cyclists as we saw when we watched her head out for the second lap.
She ditched her bike and went to the transition area barricade so her team’s runner, Lorraine could collect the timing band. As Lorraine headed off Jules dropped into the small recovery tent in the team transition area.
I headed in and looked at her. She was knackered. Jules had a similar look to Jeremy when he’s finished an endurance ride; massive enthusiasm and joy but with his cognitive function missing some top notes. I collected her gear bag from Greg her partner and started to do stuff like take her bike shoes off and try and get some food into her.
We got her moving to the large competitors recovery area at the end of the finish funnel so she could partake of the free proteins and carbohydrates on offer.
Once supplied we went over to another section of the run leg barricades to look out for Lorraine as she completed her first lap. We couldn’t stay much longer as we were due back in Perth late that afternoon.
I love watching the Half and full Ironman, it’s so inspiring. In the teams event you can see people who wouldn’t normally participate in a triathlon. Just before Jules came in I watched a guy in his mid twenties bellowing “Come on Mum!” as a mid sixties lady in ATTA (time trial association) cycling kit came in, threw her TT bike on the rack and dashed down to her son at the barricades. She semi collapsed on the barricade fence in exhaustion as her son reached down to grab the timing band on her ankle to take over for the run. When you leave an event like this, you want to sign straight up for the next one.
Before you ask, no, I haven’t.