Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Busselton Ironman 2017

Well that was an unusual situation last night. Apologies for not getting a blog ready and big hugs for my wife for stepping into the breach. As mentioned by my wife I have been working on a Busso Ironman blog but unfortunately when I went to publish it last night our Internet connection decided to die.

On top of that I have to apologise for a couple of days of radio silence over the weekend, watching the Busselton Ironman over the weekend just meant that the days ended up being jam packed. Still, that just means that I can post my summary of Busselton Ironman today instead, so for a bit of a read about my impressions of the race, read on.

First up, wow, what a race.

Fair to say that this Busso Ironman will be remembered for quite some years to come and not just because of the sharks and all that, but also because it has to have been one of the toughest versions of the race in recent memory.

Sometimes you watch a race and are filled with longing and wishing you were out there and sometimes you are honestly glad that you are not. Yesterday's race was one of the later.

What made it so tough? Well I think there were probably lots of factors that effected different people in different ways, but the one common factor that effected everyone was the heat and the humidity. This was just one tough year, plain and simple.

On paper yesterday wasn't all that bad, I think the official forecast was for 33 or 34 degrees, but really it was a bit warmer that than that, and out on course I suspect it was quite a bit warmer. Add in a bit of humidity and there were people suffering heat stress all over the shop. Of the 28 or so male pros that started, I think about 11 finished. Of my circle of friends there were DNFs all over the place and this was from seasoned, hardened Ironman finishers. Of the ones that did finish, several of them put themselves so heavily into the hurt that I was worried for their health. I watched my mate Gary Couanis bury himself so deeply that I was properly worried and was reconsidering the role I was having in urging him on. He lost about 8kg during the race and watching him collapse on the line and lose consciousnesses briefly was plain worrying.

IT WAS BRUTAL.

I have been to and done brutal races. I have been to races up in Asia were it is so hot and humid that the run leg just becomes survival. What I saw yesterday was up there with those races. Cramps were the order of the day and people found their electrolyte plan insufficient for the demands of the race. If it wasn't electrolytes it was dehydration. We actually watched people become gaunt in front of our eyes as the dehydration took its toll. Others were vomiting as they ran. The determination was amazing to watch, but if I am honest, at times the spectating was almost painful.

Still, not everyone had a horror day. Among those doing a death march on the run leg there were lots of guys and girls who had a great day. The day hurt them too for sure, but for whatever reason, they were able to make it through in one piece. Times were definitely slower, but it was still impressive to watch them facing up to horrible conditions and managing their way through. Still, that isn't to take anything away from those who didn't make it through so well, for many people they pushed until they physically couldn't anymore. You have to take your hats off to the folks who took it on, no matter how they ended up. A crazy day that provided lots of heartache and countless amazing stories of bravery in the face of adversity. One that will be painfully remembered for a few years to come.

As well as being remembered I suspect that this year will also prompt a lot of conversations within the event organiser about future events. I think there are perhaps questions to be asked about contingency plans for the heat, although if I am honest I think they did all they could there, it was simply horrible, I am not sure anything they could have done would have changed that. Rather, I think most of the conversations will be related to sharks and what can be done to ensure the smooth running of future events. This is the third Long Course Event in WA this year that has been effected by sharks. I am not really sure what the answer is, you can't simply remove the sharks, but it may require a rethink of the swim courses in order to minimise potential shark interactions. I hope not, but I wonder if the days of swimming around the jetty for IMWA are numbered. A topic for tomorrow's blog I think.

Anyway, that is that. IMWA 2017 day to remembered in infamy.

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