We headed out to Minona Terrace. George was in the zone and not very talkative. I, on the other hand, had my mocha from Starbuck's and had to make myself shut up. We hung out inside for a while with our friends Keith and Mary.
This hallway fills rapidly with people hanging out in the warmth, but this year, it's not quite so cold out, so a bit after 6:00, we headed outside and down the helix ramp to the swim start. George and Keith seemed eager to get going as they passed into the "athletes only" area. Mary and I hugged them and told them to have fun.
Wives say the dumbest things sometimes.
Sunrise over the lake was beautiful. Without a wide-angle lens, I can't really show how many boats, kayaks, and surf boards were out on the water already, waiting to keep a watchful eye on over 2,400 athletes.
I want this guy's job. Doesn't that look so peaceful? He was really useful once the race started. A swimmer got disoriented and started going off course. He redirected the guy, herding him back where he belonged.
Swimmers started getting in the water well before 6:30 for a 7:00 start. The pros get in first and start ten minutes ahead of everyone else at 6:50, but it takes over half an hour to get that many people to walk over the chip reader (a mat on the shore) and into the water. IM Moo has a deep-water start, so the racers are treading water for a while before the canon goes off.
The 7:00 start looked more like salmon spawning than anything else. Bodies churning in the water, bumping into each other, swimming over each other, kicking each other. No, thank you. I'll stay on shore.
This athlete ran into trouble right away. He had zipper failure on his wetsuit. The kayaks were on him in a flash, and the crew helped get the zipper back together.
The elbow in the air (foreground) belongs to Zipper Dude. He rejoined the race. What a bummer of a start, though.
This smiling, happy face belongs to Drew, who took our email addresses and will send me and Mary pictures he took with his fancy camera. He's done three IM races himself, and was super pumped to be shooting this race. It's easy to be happy when you're not one of the spawning salmon.
This smiling, happy face belongs to Nurse Fran, who wasn't technically on duty yet, but she couldn't resist keeping an eye out at the start anyway. About a minute after I took this shot, she ran off...
...because she spotted this athlete being brought to the dock. She was the first medic on the scene. God bless her and all the paramedics, nurses, and doctors out for the race today. Fran came back after handing her patient off to a doctor. She said he got kicked in the face and everything went black for a bit. He seemed fine and would be allowed to join the race if the doctor cleared him. Fran didn't wait to find out what happened, though. She came back to the shore and kept her eyes on the course, looking for someone else in need.
For spectators, a big frustration is finding just the right spot to see your athlete and cheer him or her on during transitions. Mary and I attempted to get on the helix ramp, which all the athletes have to run up for the swim-to-bike transition. We realized that wasn't going to happen. Too many people, too much shoving. We found a great spot inside where we could see the guys, but not one of the pictures turned out. At least George and Keith both heard us yelling for them.
I did snap a few very bad pictures of George getting his bike. That's him behind the woman in the foreground.
You can just see George's profile and the last part of his race number (1464) on his helmet. The blue handlebar tape is on his bike.
George's official swim time was 1:19. Keith came out at 1:10. So far, so good.
To follow George's times, go to Ironman.com and put his name or number (1464) in the Athlete Tracker. The tracker shows his splits, transition times and so forth. Later today, there will be video of the finish line, which I'll link to after George gets off the bike, which should be sometime around 2:00 p.m. Central Time.