Before I share about the race, I'd like to give a shout-out to the excellent customer service at Mont Tremblant Activities Center. We scheduled an amazing Apprentice Falconry adventure through them, and it's by far been the most remarkable experience of our trip to Quebec.
George, Nick, and I went on a private, guided hike through the woods with professional falconer Lucy and a Harris hawk named Phoenix. We learned so much about falconry, bird anatomy, and hunting habits, but best of all, we each were able to have Phoenix land on our gloved hand repeatedly throughout the hike.
|Lucy and Phoenix|
To be up-close and personal with a bird of prey--one trained and habituated to human contact*--was an experience I can't even begin to describe. So I'll share a link to the best video of the outing so you can see some of the awesomeness.
Phoenix flying over the bridge
A little background for those unfamiliar with Ironman races.... Ironman was started on Oahu in the late '70s out of an argument over which athletes were most fit: swimmers, bikers, or runners. This debate quickly morphed into a race combining all three events over long distances; whoever could do all three the best would be called the Ironman. Now, there are Ironman races all over the world, but the annual world championship race is still held in Hawaii, where it all began.
An Ironman race begins with a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run, for a total of 140.6 miles. To finish, an athlete must complete all three events in under 17 hours.
Yes. It's crazy.
This year will be George's ninth attempt at an Ironman. He's completed five, with his best time in 2009 of 12:35 at Ironman Wisconsin. Mike, George's brother-in-law, finished his first Ironman in 2013. Both are here in Mont Tremblant to race again.
Yes. They are crazy.
Registration opens on the Thursday before the Sunday race, so yesterday, George and Mike registered. Of course, they had signed up and paid to reserve their spots in August 2014, just after last year's race at Mont Tremblant finished. There are thousands of people pre-registered for each Ironman race.
Yes. That's a lot of crazy people.
Today, we checked out the race site, walked to the swim start, and took in the Birds of Prey show at the top of the mountain. (We highly recommend it if you are ever at Mont Tremblant.) Tomorrow, George and Mike will spend the bulk of their day in their hotel rooms with their feet up, resting in what George calls "sloth mode." Angela, Nick, Jack, and I will wander the charming streets of Mont Tremblant shopping, sipping coffee and/or wine, and generally entertaining ourselves.
Don't worry. The boys won't be sipping wine. Jack only drinks apple juice from boxes, and Nick prefers Shirley Temples.
Sunday will begin very early for all of us, as Angela and I start our duties as race-day Iron Sherpas. We get to carry stuff (like morning clothes and bike pumps), to cheer our racers on during transitions between events (about the only time we get a chance to see them), and to schlep their nasty, sticky bikes (covered in 112 miles of sweat and sports drinks) back to the hotel rooms before the guys finish the marathon.
It's the only time we are allowed to touch the bikes. George's bike is his Precious. You might think I'm kidding, but I'm (almost) not.
For those of you who are interested, I'll be posting updates leading up to and all during the race, including links to the Athlete Tracker (where you can track individual athletes during the race and see how they are doing) and the live feed from the finish line. Through the live feed, you will be able to watch George and Mike as they cross the finish line and hear Mike Reilly, the official Ironman North America announcer, yell out their names.
Because that's what it's all about. Hearing Mike Reilly shout your name.
And yes. Every single bit of this is spectacularly crazy.
But aren't all the best people just a little crazy?
Yes, they are.
*You might remember when we rescued the injured barred owl. It clicked menacingly every time we got too close and was clearly a wild creature. Phoenix, the Harris hawk we handled, was far more social and accommodating!