This is very very long! The reason, I'd had a tuff couple months leading into kona and I didn't know what to write in this blog. Anyways finally I've put thumb to blackberry pad and here's my kona story. It's very different to my usual race report as I was more of a participant in kona. None the less I've done some sub headings so you can skip sections as i'm sure parts will be boring! It my blog however so I can write what I like, I do however promise to make them much more streamlined in the future! Oh and it's as always unedited.
It's been almost 5 weeks since almost to the hour that I crossed the finish line on alli drive at the hawaii ironman and no blog. The reason I hadn't but finger to blackberry pad is simply that I didn't know what to write, how I really felt about the whole experience. Well finally I've thought about it all enough, the build up, the realization of a childhood dream, the disappointment of knowing I would be racing the event but merely participating, the relief and satisfaction to know at the end of the day I can now call myself an ironman. Anyways I usually write a lot about a 1hr time trial so settle in for a while here as this is a story I want to tell in full and ensure I have a written memory of what when on during my road to the finish line in kona.
Off to kona-
The whole journey began following my race at the whistler ironman in july. My blog for that has most likely already bored you all so no need to go over all that again. Basically by finishing 9th overall and being the first age grouper home I qualified for the 2015 ironman world championships in kona and I was absolutely cockahoot about that!! I honestly couldn't believe my luck after only deciding to enter the event 2 weeks before, throwing together a few runs, rides and swim in that time, an lining up not having any idea what was going to happen to me during the race. In the end I was pleasently surprised and I'd booked by ticket to kona! With my first ironman and marathon out of the way and the result be far better than anyone including myself expected I was and I think quite rightly quietly confident of a strong performance in kona. The week post race was spent planning training camps and equipment for the lead up and for the big day and by weeks end we had what we felt to be an absolute cracka of a battle plan to execut for my debut at the hawaii ironman. The following weekend my closest childhood buddy Posh Mcdonald and I had planned a road trip from LA to downieville for the annual MTB festival which was to be my final opportunity to let my hair down before I began my road to kona on the following Monday.
Once in downieville we hit the ground running. Josh was competing in the famous downhill/enduro/crosscountry unofficial world championship of the event know in the industry as one of a kind! I was being diligent and not competing to avoid taking unnecessary risks in the lead up to kona but still sneaking in a couple of cusual crosscountry rides on the inbetween supporting my buddy posh. The downieville trials are famous among mtb enduro enthusiasts and people travel from all over the globe to ride there. It's difficult to describe just how unique and magical downie's trials are but think American style of bigger is best with big wide open lucious trials and flowing berms that are literally a car lane wide. There are certainly some extremely challenging sections but with the groomed trials being so wide every section there is a line for the most fearless and techniqual decender and another for the most novice of novice mtb'er it's simply amazing!!
Anyways to cut a long story short, one morning I'm out there enjoying myself on the luscious trials, I stick my leg our for stabilization, my foot jags a rock, and within a split second I have not one but two fractured metatarsels in my left foot and my kona dreams and aspiratin's are quite literally broken!! My first reaction pretty simple really, "you bloody idiot" I said to myself, oh and how bloomen excruciating the pain was when I tried to continue pedaling in a desperate bid to convince myself the damage wasn't that bad, the pain came on so quick so I will go quickly I said to myself no way it's broken!! Yeah right, I deep dwon know right away as I felt like sick to the depths of my stomach, I had the most challenging injury of my life to deal with and the greatest phyical challenge of my life to prepare for, not a great combo!! Sure enough an xray showed 2 nice little fractures of the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal's and after walking into the surgery in my joggers I walked out in my footware for the next 7 weeks, a shiny new moon boot and a set of crutches, Awwwwsomeeee!!!
As with most things I tried to be as optimistic as possible. I convinced myself that I'd able to train around it and not lose any fitness, infact to the contrary as I had no qualms telling people I'd actually come out of this in even better shape than I could have with 2 fit feet!! Yep I was the ultimate optimist. Problem with feet is there are so many little bones all connected to each other in one way shape or form and and movement of the foot at all during the healing phase can re fracture the bone and send you back to square 1. I came up with every trick and modification in the book to get myself exercising again such as pedalling with my heel instead of fore foot and swimming with a pool buoy strapped to my ankles. The pool set up was pretty funny actually as I obviously couldn't tumble turn so had to spin around like a tug boat and head back to the other end of the pool. As the weeks went and I tried improvising to do really what we're nothing more that a problem athetic excuse of maintenance routines, I realised the best thing was full rest and try and ensure I have a foot to go to kona with that can atleast hobble or walk the 42km marathon. At the end of the day this was kona we are talking about and the hawaii ironman so in my mind I deserved having my other foot broken if I didn't atleast attempt to complete the event.
So that was that, after a few weeks common sense prevailed and rest and recovery became the only objective. I realized having a healthy strong foot in kona was going to give me a chance of being far more competitive than a half ass'd trained athlete with a nagging foot injury would be. Yep rock up fresh and healed and untrained became my method of preparing for kona, the complete opposite of what I'd envisaged during those battle plan discussions with cannondale in the days after whistler. On the bright side atleast we still have the whole training process for an event up our sleeve should I ever want to head back to kona to actually race it in the future.
From that moment on the final 4 weeks of recovery leading into kona went really well. I'd train or more exercise every odd day, or 1 on 2 to 3 days off more often than not. When the moon boot finally came off 2 weeks before kona I was able to actually do some "training" again without risk of further injury. I had a lot of muscle imbalance thanks to the 7 weeks in a moonboot so I couldn't train long and hard as I'd favor my stronger leg and amplify the problem. Instead I trained short and hard until my left leg and foot became sore then take a day or days off until it recovered and rebuilded and got stronger from that hit out, basically the opposite type of training you wanted to be doing for an ironman!! So 2 weeks out I started with a 1hr ride at intensity. By the end of the 1st week I was up to 2hrs 30min of solid riding and by the time I'd boarded the plane to kona 3 days before race day I had 2 rides of 4hrs under my belt, I was on the improve. I hadn't ridden 180km since whistler so my final session was planned as a lap of the bike course on the wednesday before Saturdays big test. I wanted to push myself here as I knew if I survived it and I could recover in the 2 days before the event the was a glimmer of hope that I may still be able to chase after that course record on the bike, I might just pull a rabbit out of the hat, I was ready to give kona a crack!!
It was quite a strange feeling when I woke up at 5am on race morning, I was excited but also a bit flat knowing that I wouldn't really be a racer today but merely a competitor. Having dealt with the reality of this I wasn't going to waste my time stressing about a result and taking things to seriously as the best thing I could get out of the day was the experience of seeing how the event plays out. My dissapointment came from the fact this was my 3rd world championship in a different sport after my stints in rowing and cycling, off course I wanted to line up atleast with the mindset of attempting to win a world title but this wasn't going to be the case. I'm not an arrogant sportsman and I know what I'm capable of what my competitors where capable off, knowing I couldn't run a step and I have a long marathon walk that afternoon meant any overall ambition was well and trully the furtherest thing from my mind. All I could focus on was trying to achieve the things within grasp and that was to put together a competitive swim and bike portion to the best of my ability and see where that put me considering my preperation. There is no secrets and everyone who knows me knows the last 3 months has seen me exercise less than I ever have for that time period since I started knuckling into sport at age 14 so the only physiological advantage I had over my competors in kona was freshness! Oh and some stubboness off course as I still believed that if the chips fell my way I maybe just maybe could rip out a fast bike split and a competitive swim. Regardless of my current state of form one thing was certain and although racing as a age grouper for my first attempt on the big Island I wanted to be leading all my fellow age group competitors off the bike. I wanted to see how I felt being that guy who exits transition ahead of your competitors at the famous hawaii ironman, see if it sparked anything in me?? Sure the pro men started 30minutes ahead so I wasn't going to chase them down but the women at 25minutes up the road provided a real carrot to chase all them down and get out on the run course in the thinck of the pro action sandwiched between the men and women, feel the emotion of it all. That was my goal when I woke up on race morning.
So with that all being said I wasn't getting to wound up in pre race meals and digestion at all. I know I could through down a bowl of oatmeal and a couple of bananas a couple of hours before start and that would give me ample fuel to get through a 59minute swim and 4hr 30min on my bicycle. I wasn't at all worried about the run as I knew I wouldn't be running, I'd attemped to trot 1 mile in the underpants run on the thursday morning during race week in kona and my foot blew up like a Baloon, there would be no fairytale for me on race day. My body simply wasn't up to it and simply hadn't done the training that deserved a miricle to happen in such a prestigious event. People train and prepare for this event for years to get the reward on race day and that's how it should be and that's something that motivates me to go back and do it properly. Anyways I shoved down some fuel and at 5:30am bang on schedule Fallon and I jumped into a taxi and headed off to the race start.
When we arrived at the race start it dawned on me that I had no nervs wasn't a great feeling, when I'm not nervous it usually means I'm not going to perform that well. It generally means I've got nothing to lose, for some reason I perform much better when I feel like I've got something to lose. On this day I did every excuse in the book for whatever outcome, I hadn't trained, I had a couple of broken bones, and had no pressure to achieve any sort of result. The only pressure I felt was what I put on myself to maintain some pride on the bike and atleast get of the treadly ahead of all the age groupers and in the thick of the pro women. Maby I should have given myself loftier ambitions as that's exactly what happened but in all honesty I was scared to shoot to high as I knew there was a large probability of not living up to my expectations considering my physical condition.
I whisked through all the pre race protocols. First was get you numbers marked on your body which I'm always so impressed how they seeming write everything backwards so it looks the right way round! Always baffles me! Once that was done headed to transition to put my "turbo" bottles on my bike and pump up my tyres. These bottles were the main source of fuel for the day so was imperative they were on my bike secure. As I put my bottles on my bike the pro's were getting ready to start. They took off 30minutes before we did so the anthem and fly over was all going on. It wasn't until this moment that I realized, wow I'm really at kona, I'm about to go and race kona! This sent chills through my spine and gave me goosebumps all over, I'd dreamed of being here and now I was right there. I vowed to myself to no matter what today I'm crossing that finish line, I want to become an ironman. I don't care if I fracture every other bone in my foot in the process, I'm getting accross that finish line and between the gun going at the start and crossing that line I'll give it 100percent of my capability. This was kona!! Honor the event!! I took a moment while they counted down the pro and cannon started to soak up the atmosphere, it trully was electric and inspiring even at 6:25am!! Once they were off so was I, bike was ready to rumble, was time to suit myself up, sunscreen up, grab a final feed, basically get myself ready to rumble!
I found Fallon who had all my race clothes and set about getting myself organized. I had a fancy new speed suit that had to be rolled down as you can't cover your shoulders in the kona swim. I rolled it up tightly and tucked it in under my swim skin, I was really starting to feel the part! With a little help from Fallon and a few deep breathe I managed to squeeze on my roka swim skin and I was certainly streamlined! She was snug! I felt extremely streamlined!! Next was the lather up with anti chafing cream which I learnt from whistler not to wipe all over the lense of my googles!! Fortunately fallon was on hand with a towel to wipe my pinkeys and I wouldn't have a repeat debarcle of not being able to see and consequently ditching the goggles and swimming 3.5km goggles less! No mistakes today. The final touch was sunscreen so I shut my eyes while Fallon gave me what I can imagine must feel like a fake tanning as she sprayed me head to toe with 50+, I was going to be out there for a long time! I jammed down a final choc salted caramel bonk breaker bar, quick swig of my electrolyte mix and I was all set. It was 10 minutes till race start so perfect time to get a quick warmup and get myself onto the start line. Fallon wished me luck, said I'll see you later on today!! I'll try and be finished by dark I promised, and I was off, it was go time.
From that moment on I just couldn't wait for the race to start. I charged through the crowd toward the water. I was like being at a big rowing regatta, you just want to get in the boat and start your warmup as from that moment your in control. I just wanted to get myself in the water, start my warmup and get on the startline, it was time to race! Once in the water I felt great! As I expected my tight fitting roka swim skin made me feel incredibly streamlined and my confidence grew for sub 1hr swim. I'd never swam this far without a wetsuit before so had no idea how I'd go but as usual I was confident I'd be ok. The next task was lining up on the start line. I'd been told that to be on the front row you have to be aggressive and make it look like your a fast swimmer. One things for sure I had all the gear with no idea what to do with it so I looked the part, now I just had to somehow look like I was a good swimmer as I barged my way to the front row. The seas parted for me so to speak and when they announed "2minutes till race start" I was planted on the front row! Wow, not only am I in kona but I'm now on the startline and on the front row!! That's cool! That 2minutes went for an eternity but finally the countdown began, "30 seconds" was annouced and we waited for the cannon! "BOOM" and we were off!
Common sense would say that with a 3.8km swim, 180km ride, and 42km run ahead you should probably start out conservatively, it was going to be a long day. Nah, not me, when that gun went off I went out like an absolute wounded bull!! When I finally decided to have a look about and transition into a bit of a race rhythm after around 100m flat knacka, I was leading!! I actually laughed under water which was a mistake as I swallowed about a litre of sea water! I couldn't believe these guys were following me, I'm ok over a short distance but it I'm in far from a strong swimmer so I must have bluffed them hard on the line. Anyways I was leading and I was also hurting! My arms and shoulders were chocka block full of lactic acid and fatigue and I had around 3.7km's still to swim, perfect I thought, was exactly the start I was looking for. My tactic now was simple, basically stay at my maximum for as long as possible and maby just maby I might have a good swim bike. First of all though I had to let some actuall fast swimmers get past me so I could get on there feet and have a toe, that's the cyclist in me!! This proved to a mistake as as I tried to slow and get some guys ahead of me I got absolutely pulverized by a bunch of dudes keen to get past me. I copped one good fist bang on my left foot right on my fracture site which made me wince in pain, again a mistake as I swollowed another L of sea water. Like when I play football once I'm hit once the gloves are off so I started fighting back and got myself into a nice group of good swimmers to tow me around the course. I judge a good swimmer by how much they kick, I don't kick at all, it takes me about 20minutes to do 100m kicking in the pool, I really suck. So I just looked out for guys kicking a lot and followed them. Also that way they broke up even more water so was easier for me to swim in there wake and go a lot quicker than I was actually normally capable of, it's pretty cool how the whole drafting thing in the water works, really cool actually.
The swim really flew by. I was absolutely dyeing a 1000 deaths 100m into the swim but by the time the king Kam hotel came into clear view on the swim back to transition I was feeling great. The whole following feet business had actually given me a chance to recover and have as much energy as possible for bike. I followed my little pack of strong kickers all the way to the beach and after 59minutes I was back on dry land, perfect timing!! I felt like quite the pro as I exited the water, I had my zip undone in a flash and by the time I entered the tradition tent I had both sleeves up and over my shoulders, beginers luck!! I grabbed my bike gear bag and found a seat. I quickly ripped off my swim skin and pulled on my socks and put on my bike shoes and I was off again, I couldn't wait to get on that bike. As I exited the tent and the bike transition came into view I felt good as it was full. A full transition after the swim means you've had a good swim as there's more behind you than infront of you!! I found my bike first time which is always a bonus, jammed on my snazzy brand new rudy project aero lid and charged out of transition, well charged with a destinctive hobble!! I couldn't wait to see that mount line to get the party started, I was finally on my home turf and headed for the infamous queen K HWY.
I felt awesome when I started pedaling. I hadn't pedalled my cannondale in anger for 10 weeks since the whistler event, it felt so amazing. I'd taken my power meter sensor off my bike as I didn't care what it said. I knew to break the course record I had to average 42.5kmph and that's all I cared about. I had average speed set on my Garmin and I was just going to try and do whatever it took to average that speed. This was probably stupid as I had no reference to output by it was all or nothing for me on the bike and being as out of shape as I was I just needed to roll the dice and see what happened. My first checkpoint was to be at 20minutes as I exited town after the mini loop we do at the beginning around Kailua. I smashed that and was 18min and already 43kmph Ave, the slice was absolutely humming along for me. Once up on the queen K I really opened up. My bike had been fitted with ceramic speed everything the evening before and I couldn't even feel the pedals everything felt so incredibly smooth and fast. It just felt like nothing was working against me and everything was literally helping me blast along the queen k. I blew past the age grouper whom exited the water ahead of me and after 40km I was all alone! I'd start seeing the pro women soon enough but for now I was all alone on the queen k, just me, my bike and my average speed, in other words I couldn't care less if I was alone or in the middle of a Christmas pagent! I was racing my bike. The next check point I had was the bottom of the climb to Hawi. I needed to be there with an average speed of 43kmph to ensure by the time I reach to turn around at the top my average hadn't dipped below 40kmph, I was bang on target!
Nutrition is obviously crucial in an ironman event. My buddy Tim Reed had given me a great tip the day before to ensure I eat as much as possible in the early stages as I'll need it in the last 40km. Ummmm ooppss, I was so excited about going fast that it wasn't until the 60km mark that I remembered to eat some bars! By then it's too late, I was already on the path to running out of fuel!! The cool thing about ironman events is the aid stations. Basically you could take no food at all and you'd never go hungry out there. Another bonus of being up the road alone is you get first crack at the aid stations. This becomes particularly beneficial when you blast through them at 50kmph as you can afford to drop 10 bottles and hopefully catch 1! Initally I slammed down the orange gatoreade but after around 80km I ditched the electrolytes and just started grabbing coke. I love coke and it tasted so good chilled out there in those lava fields. By the end of the bike course I must have smashed around 6 bottles of coke.
Back to the climb to Hawi and I started picking up the pro women. As I passed them I tried to offer a word of encouragement also so they knew it was a boy coming past and not one of there competition. I remember passing the 2014 champion from australia Miranda Carefree and giving her a big come on!! Sadly you could see on her face that it wasn't going to be her day, she stared straight back blankly at me and looked so powerless that I wanted to give her a hug, how devestating for such a great champion to be feeling that way on your day!! Anyways kona can kick anybodies backside and this year rinny got a taste of that, she'll be back better and more badass than ever next year no doubt. Back to the race and I reached the turn around at Hawi ahead of schedule with a 40.3kmph average, great, on track. Next checkpoint was to get back to bottom inside 3hrs total time. The ride down from Hawi is perhaps the hardest part of the course as you think you should be flying downhill but your pedalling flat knacka to go anywhere quickly, the whole course is so unrelenting. Still I reached the bottom of the Hawi climb rd at 2hrs 58min, still on track, I really believed at this point I'd give the record a nudge, I had 1hr 20min to get home.
As I swung back onto the queen k the wheels started to come off. I don't know if the Hawi decent had me out of rhythm or conditioning and nutrition mistakes caught up with but I just felt the spark go. I ignored the signs and dug in even deeper, I was on track for a quick time and had my next checkpoint on my mind at 40km to go. I wanted to role through there under 3hrs 18min as it gave me 1hr to get to the finish. I figured 40kmph was well within my grasp so was a good target. The clock read 3hrs 17min when pedalled through my final checkpoint and from hear it was head down tail up and set sail for home. By this point I was really starting to struggle and the power was gone from my pins. The muscle imbalance of 8 weeks in a moonboot had caught up with and my left leg had checked out. My right leg was doing all it could to keep the wheels turning my it to was rapidly running out of horsepower. Sure enough with 20km to go on the bike I was simply rolling my legs over and my speed was dropping faster than an Olympic diver off the 10m platform! It was plumeting but without any grace! Soon 35kmph became hard, the 30kmph, then 25kmph, I was literally on my hands and knees as I finally dragged my sorry self to the turn of the queen k hwy with 1km to pedal. The record was long gone, now staying above 40kmph would be a good result. I had caught all bar the 1st place pro women so I was going to get my wish of feeling the emotion of the crowd when the pros were on the course. I think I was 15+minutes ahead of the next age grouper so I was happy with that. I finally arrived at the bike/run transition and was put out of my misery. I'd given the bike everything I could possibly muster and the course came out on top, I wasn't up for the fight today. Anyways I couldn't wait to get of that bike, it was time to get on with the day and the next objective, getting my broken foot to hard finish line before dark! I did take one quick moment to smile as I entered transition. The pros bikes are all lined up in the front left corner of transition when you enter which doesn't take my space, there are only 100 of them combined. The other 2000 spaces are for all the age groupers so was a pretty cool feeling seeing only the pro men's bikes and the age group racks completely empty, I was leading the category. While that did make me feel good I did also ponder how awesome it would be to be the first professional back to transition, all racks completely empty, that's something I want to experience one day. Anyways didn't have time to ponder and before I knew it was in the transition tent again and throwing on my running shoes. The volunteers at ironman events are so amazing and are there at every turn. They were so excited to see the first age grouper that they all wanted to help. I had one each helping with each shoe, another peeling a bannana,for me, and 2 others applying sunscreen all over my neck, arms and face as after all It had been nearly 6hrs since Fallon had slip slop slapped me. Once sneakered and suncreened up I was ready to run, was time to get off the backside for the final time for the day and enjoy some time on my feet!
As I exited transition on the run I could've cried. I wanted so badly to run like an athlete but everytime my left foot hit the ground I was winching in pain. I'd refused a painkilling injection or taking any orally as I didn't want to not feel how bad it was. I also wanted to cry as I felt like a fraud. Here was the leading ameture but nearly 15minutes it looked like I couldn't run a step. I decided there and then that I had to atleast try, I had to as best I could lift my legs as high as possible and honor the event. As soon as the first age grouper passed me I'd then take it easy and ensure I get to the finish but until I'm no longer leading age grouper I'll run as best I could. The crowd and atmosphere as I headed up alli drive was incredible. It was the emotion I wanted to experience, the atmosphere I'd felt as a 16 year old watching the olympics from the grandstand in sydney, the shivers that sent up my spine and made me dream of one day being an Olympian. I watched cadel climb alp d'huez in the 2008 tour and felt the same feeling, that moment made me dream of one day being a professional bike rider and racing le tour, that dream still ain't dead. And now here I was in the thick of the action on saturday afternoon at the hawaii ironman and got the same thrills and chills, I can't wait to go back one day when I come out of that transition still racing, what an incredible feeling that would be.
Back to run and I shuffled/jogged up alli drive. Finally after around 7km or so the first age grouper passed me. When he did, a absolute character who was wearing a camel back I thanked him for doing so and wished him all the best. He asked why I looked like I'd never run in my life and I told him about my foot. He gave me a big hug and thanked me for the support and complimented me on my ride, it was a nice moment and another moment that's meant I've fallen in love with the sport of ironman. The comraderie in the sport I'm not saying is better than any other sport but it's just different, it's I feeling amongst the athletes I feel really comfortable in and love being around, pretty special. So now I was off the hook! I could walk or whatever I wanted to do, I just needed to get to the finish before the sun went down. I experimented with a few different techniques to keep moving forward. First I tried shuffling and that felt pretty good. My theory was keep both feet as close to the ground as possible and limit as much as possible the impact on my foot. I tried walking but that actually hurt more than shuffling so I stuck with the shuffle which was good as it was much faster than limp walking, I wa ontrack to beat the sun home!
Now that I was well and trully in cruise enjoyment mode I started to enjoy the day again. I stopped everytime I saw someone I knew on the side of the road supporting which helped break up the otherwise lengthy marthon ahead! I ran into former aussie pro cyclist Ben day, my good mate from lord howe island Tim Reed and countless other familiar faces. The cannondale clan were out in force with Timmy Eaton, Steve Kwait, and Kevin Costa, those boys had my bike all dialed and for years have all been there for me whenever I need anything, absolute legends. Next I ran into my california parents in Ethan and Marisol Penner. Marisol trains me in her pain cave and they made the trip accross to watch the event which meant the world to me. They knew I couldn't run, they see me everyday, marisol through knew I was capable of still finishing so wanted to make sure I wasn't quiting by grabbing my shoulders and looking me square in the eye and said "finish cam". The only way I wasn't finishing was if I was in an ambulance, I wasn't quitting.
With pleasentries all out of the way through town it was back to the queen K. A few mile down the road and I saw frodeno running back to town en route to his first kona tittle. He's a seriously impressive looking athlete and was pleased he won. He also won the oceanside event I did in march and looked equally impressive that day. I say that as he obviously is a champion year round, takes the sport very seriously and you can see by the results, was great champion. As much as he was suffering inside you couldn't see it on his face, he was en route to glory. The rest of the pro's on the other hand looked like they were on struggle street!! No surprize I guess considering they were at the end of a marthon let alone everything that proceded that!! Anyways I wished I was suffering but sadly wasn't, I was just shuffling and would be for a couple more hours so best keep on keeping on. I made my way along queen and finally into the feared energy Lab. That section was very memorable due to the enthusiasm of the volunteers, wow they were simply incredible. Something pretty special about having a bunch of little 3-5year old hawaiin kids handing you a cup of water and cheering you on, no shortage of inspiration out on course that's for sure.
Back onto queen k for the final time and as the km's to the finish line dropped so to did the sun and I began focusing on that, I wanted to beat it! On this stretch of road I came up with the optimal hydation combo. First you grab a cup of ice and a cup of coke and pour the coke over the ice. Then walk through the station and grab a water and some bannana and by the time you get to the end of the station you have a beautifully chilled cup of coke! Delicious! Anyways finally I made way to the end of the queen k but just before I turned off I found one of my closest friends coming the other way, Sunny Garcia. We met in oceanside and have been training together ever since, rarely a day goes by where we are not training together or talking about what we did that day. It's been an incredible friendship and one that I trully cherrish, sunny is most certainly one of the most incredible people put on the this planet. Let alone how he's pioneered pro surfing but all his work for charity and children all while facing depressions an incredible struggles himself, just an amazing human and here was en rout to finishing the hawaii ironman! So I stopped for final time to be social and had a chinwag with sunny. He was in great spirits as he only had 24km to go! I was in great spirits as I had only 2km and was going to get home before the sun set! Was a nic moment and was so pleased we crossed paths at that point, I'd be waiting for him in a few hrs when he crossed the line.
Off the queen k for the final time and I was homeward bound. I soaked the atmosphere of my final km or so and again pondered how amazing would be to be at this point having raced the whole way. To have put your body to the absolute limit in the most extreme conditions and finally be insight of the line, that would be something pretty special. Anyways it wa still special for me as I was going to make it to the finish line and do so before the sun went down. I swung onto Alii Drive for the final time and you can't help but smile at the sight of the crowd, they go absolutely nuts! It gives me chills just thinking about it to be honest. Down the finish shoot and accross that line and finally I hear those words "cameron wurf from tasmania, you are an ironman" funny even in kona we are not Australians but tasmanian, guess kinda like hawaiins, probably why sunny and I get along so well!!
So that was that, I was now an ironman. Once I heard that famous voice and had the flowers thrown over my shoulders it was all over. I didn't even take any notice of how long I'd taken I didn't care, the sun was still up. There was a brief moment of excitement and soaking up that finish area, I spotted the sugoi girls, nat, jaime and lisa in the vip area and went and said hi to them. They have been the first ones to greet me at my other 2 events this year so was nice to be there with them again for the big one. Sugoi is a great supportor and sponsor of mine and have been for many years so this year being able to work much more closely with them has been great. Once I'd seen the girls thought I have to be brutally honest I just wanted to find Fallon and get changed. I wasn't tired, I wasn't fatigued, I basically felt like I just had a round of golf. I hadn't run a single step so my muscles weren't beat up and I'd consumed enough calories in coke and redbull throughout the day that I had energy stores for another 10 kona ironmans! No I was just pleased I'd got to the finish before the sun had set, I'd had a good swim and given it everything I had in me on the bike, my job was done. If I'd dwelled on the moment I would only have kept thinking what could have been and that was pointless. Yes I want to go back and do the race properly in the future so the quicker I moved on from this year's event the better. Nope there were no laying down getting a masage or shoveling kg's of food down my stomach, I simply couldn't wait to see fallon, get changed, go grab a nice meal with her and then head back to the finish to wait for Sunny to cross the line. At that point however it dawned on me I had no phone, no cloaths, and no way of knowing where Fallon would be. I simply had my running shoes, a snazzy sugoi racing suit, some hawaiin beeds wrapped around my neck and an ironman finishers towel wrapped over my shoulders. There were 10's of thousands of people about so just had to put a little faith that I'd bump into her.
Sure enough when I finally got myself out of the finish area there was fallon walking toward me close to where we parted ways almost 11hrs earlier, what a relief as I was really pleased to see her. I asked fallon what time it was 7? 7:30? I've got no idea I said I was just racing the sun!! When she told me it was only 5:45 I couldn't believe it. I said that means It only took me 10hrs 30min or so! Cool felt like I was out there for way longer than that. So that was the de brief, I no kinda knew my time and the race was behind me, I was in civilian cloaths and just was excited to now just be apart of the crowd. We went and grabbed a quick feed with ethan and marisol and kept a Close eye on the ironman tracker to see where sunny was, we didn't want to miss him coming down the finish shoot. It was far more exciting for me to watch sunny come accross the line than the excitement I felt myself. He'd actually achieved something that day and I'd seen quite literally the blood, sweat and at times tears he'd put into even being on the start line in kona but to be finishing the event in 13hrs or so was nothing short of a monumental achievement that meant so much to him as a person. So many had questioned his commitment to the event and desire to finish and he just went out there and showed everyone what a great champion he is yet again. I was so incredibly proud of him and just so happy I'd made the effort to still come to kona as I wouldn't have wanted to miss that moment for anything.
With sunny across the line there was just one pal left on course I wanted to cheer home. I met thom hulick in oceanside and instantly struck a good accord. Thom was so interested in my background and just one of the most sincere genuine dudes I'd ever come across. We kept intouch speratically throughout the year and logically crossed paths in Kona. Meeting thom is another example of what I'm loving about the ironman scene, your just surrounded by so many great people. Again not implying my previous sports aren't the same but it's different in ironman. In a bike race you don't have the ametures following the le tour peleton up alp d'huez 15minutes behind and finishing under the same finish banner. In triathlon the age group athletes do exactly the same course as the professionals at exactly the same time. What that does if it gives the age group athletes a real appreciation for what the professional athletes can do and this shows in your interaction with those guys, it's unique. From a professional side and while not racing as a pro I gues they see me as one, we have a huge admiration for what these age group athletes achieve while working full time!! We train all day everyday so should be good, these guys are juggling work school and God knows whatever else before they get to there training. It creates a wonderful environment because the age group athletes aren't trying to beat the pros, they are simply doing there best which is an achievement on its own. Thom has become a great friend and it's a friendship that born from this great sport, one of mutuall respect so I wa stoked to be there to high five him as he came down the finish shoot on Alii Drive, such a different race day environment to what I'd become accustomed but one I could very easily get used to so well done thom!!
With my mates safely home I was ready to leave Alii Drive behind for the day myself. Fallon and I bundled up my bike and gear and headed back to the ranch. I'd planned to stay for the final finisher like I did in whistler but I didn't feel like it. I just wanted to go home, take a shower and get some rest. I'd done all I could for the day and just wanted to literally put it to bed and get on with tomorrow. I'd had a taste of how special the hawaii ironman is, how special kona is, and how special it all was to me. I with performance out of the question I went wanting to answer thos questions for myself, no better to do than first hand hey!! Did I love it? Absolutely, being there with my awesome sponsors, my closest friends, new friends, and off course those so special to me. Being able to literally share the experience with all those people from the moment you wake up on race day till the moment you go to sleep that night is really really special, something before I found ironman hadn't existed in my sporting world to this point. Sure there's the race but ironman call themselves a family because that's what it is, support all around you, an environment that make you want to do your abolute best, each and every competitor, just awesome. Yep I'm hooked and I'm going to do my very very best to put the right foot foward in the future and get back to kona to race!!
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