Right smack dab in the middle of the afternoon we had our volunteer positions. The "Hot Corner" they call it. Bikes coming in, runners heading out to their 1st ten-mile turnaround, and back again heading out towards the Energy Lab. This was amazing! It was hot, alright! Standing on that blazing pavement. As we stood and controlled human traffic trying to cross the course, I could only imagine what these athletes were feeling. I was only directing people. They had just finished a HOT and WINDY 112 miles on the bike, only to hop off and take on a 26.2 mile run on this hot, sticky, windless day.
We loved this volunteer spot. We had timed it perfectly. Knowing when our favorite pro's would be coming through off of their bikes, and right past us onto the run! It was an exciting volunteer posistion.
After our shift, we were free to roam around, cheering on racers, meeting people, and waiting anxiously at the finish for the speedy's. It seemed almost impossible that in such a short amount of time, the pro's were coming in finishing their run. Their Ironman day was coming to an end. We cheered loudly and got teary-eyed as they came in. Craig Alexander. Breaking records, and sobbing as he met his family at the finish. And Chrissie Wellington. The woman with the hugest smile! Gracefully making her way to her Ironman World Championship win. She was all smiles, of course.
Finishing up for the Win!!
As the day continued, we watched racers, wandered around, cheered, stood in awe of the people we saw finishing. It was a remarkable day.
Towards the midnight cutoff, the party downtown was incredible. It was inspiring to see these athletes finish. These men and women coming in after the hardest race of their lives. This is the "meat" of Ironman. Not to put off the pros and their hard work, but listening to the stories spill out about these late finishers was astounding. Cancer survivors, current cancer patients, amputees, people who had overcome so many health issues, weigh loss, loss of spouses, children, parents, people defying the odds. The tears rolled from my eyes, seeing them literally battling everything within them, to cross that finish line.
And after the midnight clock ran out. That 17 hour cutoff. The ceremony that followed was incredible. Hula dancers, fire dancers, closing prayers, and the traditional blowing of the Hawaiian Pu horn. We loved hearing them talk about the race, and bring to a close of the 2011 Ironman World Championships!!
Along the course ~beautiful!!
Mike Reilly pumping up the crowd!!
Volcanoes National Park
Greg heading through the forest to the lava tube
Heading into the tube
The Painted Church
Coming home was hard. Hard to leave the warm sand, the beaches, the clear waters of the Pacific and the excitement of Ironman. Hard to come back after being kissed by Kona, Hawaii.