I just got back from Texas where I visited my daughter and we watched my son, Chris, compete in the Ironman in The Woodlands, near Houston. Some of you may not know about the Ironman. Here is what Wikipedia says: “An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order and without a break.”
Chris prides himself in being in good shape for his firefighter job (USFS Hot Shot), but the Ironman requires even more. It requires a lot of planning and dedication by the athlete to put in the hours necessary to compete at this level. And it doesn’t hurt to have dedicated family and friends for support. The infrastructure and number of staff and volunteers necessary to put on this event is amazing too.
Here are some photos I took after we got to Texas in the days before the Ironman.You can’t do a triathlon without a bike, and we shipped Chris’ bike to Katie’s and Kurtis’ house near Wimberly. Chris had to reassemble all the parts that we took off to fit it in the bike-shipper box.After assembling the bike Chris needed to ride to make sure that everything was working right. This is his introduction to the hills and humidity he was to face (although fortunately the Ironman was not in the Hill Country).
We drove to The Woodlands on Thursday so that we would be there for check-in. Dan, a dedicated teacher who rarely misses work, arrived early Friday morning (2:30 a.m). We spent Friday organizing equipment, driving the bike course, and resting up (as important for the support crew as for the athlete, it turns out).Bags ready to go. There is one each for swim, bike, and run. Making it through the transitions quickly is an important part of the competition. Once the event starts, there can be no support (other than moral) from family or friends, so everything the athlete needs for the transitions has to be in these bags.
Friday morning the athletes were allowed to go for a swim to get a feel for the lake. There are temperature limits that dictate whether or not wetsuits are mandatory, optional, or not allowed. It wouldn’t be until 5 a.m. the next morning that the athletes would know for sure. (It turns out that the water was warm enough that wetsuits were optional, but if you chose to wear a wetsuit you would start 10 minutes behind the others.)After the swim practice it was time to deliver the bike and the bags of gear to the swim-bike/bike-run transition area.
Bike racked and ready to go. There is room here for 3000 bikes–an amazing site when it is full. Getting tips from Dad. Chris has a lot on his mind.Here is a preview of the Support Team. Stay tuned to see photos of the Ironman.