I had a great time in Arizona this past weekend spectating and volunteering at the Arizona Ironman. Having run 9 marathons, some half marathons, and 2 triathlons the past few years, it was fun to go to a race and simply watch, cheer and volunteer. And, YES, I did end up registering to do this race next year!
Ironman Arizona swim start
Sunday morning we got up early to watch the start of the race. I spectated at my hubby’s Ironman in June, but this start was a little different as thousands of athletes were in the water and started at the same time. It looked quite chaotic when the cannon went off signaling the start of the race. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little intimidated by imagining having to be in that craziness next year.
After watching the swim for a bit, we took a walk, got some coffee and went back to watch the swimmers come out of the water. What a fun sight to see them climb out of the lake and then hit the ground while volunteers helped to pull their wetsuits off. These volunteers were amazing!
We decided to hang out and watch as the swim finished up. In Ironman races you are given 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the swim portion of the race. If you do not finish the 2.4 mile swim by then, you are pulled from the race and not allowed to continue. I knew about this time limit, but never realized how many people it potentially affects. The most depressing part of my day was seeing the swimmers that did not make the cut off time get pulled from the race. Some racers were only seconds from completing their swim in time and got their timing chips pulled off their legs as they stepped out of the water and told their race was finished. It still hurts me to think of how many hours of training over months and months these athletes put in to have their Ironman finished before they even get on their bike. I understand why the race has to have cut off times throughout the day, but it was heartbreaking to watch it happen.
Next up, we watched some of the bike course and then had to grab lunch and get ready for our volunteer shift.
My husband and kids and I were signed up to volunteer at the first aid station on the run course. The marathon was a 2 loop course, so our aid station was at miles 1 and 14. Each aid station had a different theme, which really made it fun for the volunteers and the racers. Our theme was super heroes. We decided to go as a family of Batman (Batmen?!).
We all had a great time at the aid station. It was fun to get the inside look at an Ironman aid station. It is so different than a marathon aid station. I’m used to water and Gatorade on a marathon course, and maybe a GU station, but in Ironman, it’s like a buffet. Water, ice, coke, Perform, oranges, bananas, GU, pretzels, chicken soup, potato chips. Wow! With all these options, I know that figuring out what fueling will agree with my stomach during such a long race is something I’ll have to work on this upcoming year.
My daughter handing off a drink. Check out Wonder Woman in the background!
My kids loved helping out and my daughter thought it was really cool to hand off drinks to the professional triathletes that came through. In what other sport do you get to race on the same course as a professional athlete and hand them drinks?!
After our 4 hour shift at the run station, we grabbed some dinner and went to the finish line to watch as the evening went on. We spent a couple of hours at the finish line, and if you have never been to an Ironman race before, I would highly recommend hanging out at the finish line. Mike Reilly (the voice of Ironman), calls out each racer’s name as they come through the finish chute and tells them “You are an Ironman!”. It is an incredibly exciting and emotional thing to experience, even if you don’t know any of the athletes personally.
Just 360-some days until (God-willing) Mike Reilly calls out my name as I cross my first Ironman finish line. Time to get to work…
Have you ever done an Ironman or spectated at a race?
Did anyone watch the Kona Ironman on TV this past weekend?