Busselton Ironman

Last weekend Phil participated in the Ironman Triathlon in Busselton, Western Australia.  This was his seventh Ironman, but it was by far the most crazy that we have been a part of.

We flew in to Perth and drove the 2.5 hours South to Busselton.  Phil checked in that afternoon and got his race bags and number.  Saturday morning he turned them all in, one for the bike, one for the run, special needs bags for each, and a street bag for after the race.  There is a lot of organisation involved in these races and it's always amazing when he doesn't forget something.  He did a practice swim to get used to the wetsuit and water temperature and claimed to be looking forward to the 3.8 km swim the following morning.
Phil checking out the swim course
The Busselton Shoreline
Game face
Love this Ironman Quilt at the local patchwork shop - perhaps they can add a shark!
Ironsherpa in action
Sunday morning we got up at 4:30 am, which was a lot easier than it sounds because we were still 3 hours ahead on Melbourne time.  We got down to the transition area and it seemed like there were more people than normal in the way.  The athletes doing the half ironman were running in from the swim and it seemed like the race was really poorly organised.  As I waited for Phil to get ready I started to hear people talking about a shark.  Then I heard they were debating what to do with the swim for the full race.  Seemed like a no-brainer to me - if there was any chance that a shark was still around sounded like a good reason not to swim.  

Shark Tracker App
Just a few minutes before the race was supposed to start, the officials announced that the swim portion of the race would be canceled and the race would begin from the swim exit.  There was chaos for awhile as people regrouped towards the beach and wrapped their heads around the changes.  An hour later they started letting races begin 2 at a time every 6 seconds.  This meant it took another hour for all of the athletes to begin.  But eventually they got going and the long day of racing could finally begin.
Athletes waiting for a race update
Life Savers out of work this morning!
Athletes gathering to start the race
Usually by the end of the swim it's time for me to find an egg and bacon roll for breakfast.  I always have the passing thought of whether I can eat more calories than Phil is going to burn that day, but usually admit defeat after brekkie.  I knew I had about three hours to kill while he finished the first bike lap so I took his swim gear back to the camper van and explored the city of Busselton.
That took about 10 minutes, so then I sat down and read for awhile.  When the three hours was up I waved to Phil and then he started back out for another three hours.  More reading, more eating, more sitting around for me, and then a couple hours later I went to where the bike portion ended to watch.  It was a really warm day, 34 C, and people were not handling the heat well.  I saw several athletes go to get off their bikes and their bodies just froze due to cramps.  Volunteers had to pry them off their bikes and cool them down until they could move again.  At one point they made an announcement that they needed more volunteers to help at the medical stations.  The race was taking its toll.

Just when I was really starting to worry about Phil, he showed up and finished the bike.  He looked surprisingly good considering the others I saw and seemed happy with his ride.  He got hosed off, rehydrated, and started out on the marathon.
Getting hosed off after the bike
Starting the run

That was my cue to go grab some gelato, my chair, and settle down along the run course.  I sat and did some sewing while the athletes ran by, and I kept overhearing pieces of their conversations.  Some were talking about the shark sighting that happened during the half ironman swim and how everyone had to be pulled out of the water.  Someone mentioned a swimmer that had a heart attack during this.  I also heard talk of someone on a bike hitting a kangaroo.  Later on people were talking about a bush fire and being made to turn around early on the bike course.  Because of the heat, the athletes seemed more fatigued than usual and a lot were dropping out.

First run lap done
Phil kept plodding along and every 80 minutes or so I'd get to wave at him as he ran by.  I took a dinner break, the sun went down, and soon I was watching those approaching the finishing chute.  When I saw Phil I ran to the finish line so I could watch him come down- that's definitely the best part of the 14 hours.  There is music blaring, spectators cheering people on, and lots of smiles from the exhausted athletes.  He ran down and got some high fives along the way until he finally got to that finishing line.  Number seven done, the garmin is stopped, and a volunteer gives him a medal, a towel, and after making sure he's not going to die sends him on his way.

High giving down the finishing chute
Done with #7!



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