This weekend I volunteered for Ironman Canada because my friend, Brian Mesh a.k.a. number 186, was racing. Brian and I raced in the Kings Trail triathlon in Maui in 2003 as part of Team in Training raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We trained in the same mentor group, but Brian was the only one to continue on to do an Ironman. Last year, Brian and his friend went up to Canada to volunteer so Brian could sign up for the Ironman Canada this year. Sign up for the Ironman Canada closes the day it opens, which is the day after Ironman finishes, so the athletes must sign up the year before in order to compete a year later! That’s over a year’s life investment to doing an Ironman. Knowing the effort it takes to train for a triathlon of any size, and Brian’s dedication to doing the Ironman, I really wanted to support him in this race. Their idea for volunteering was excellent because volunteers had access to areas regular spectators and family could not go. This meant, I had a unique perspective into Brian’s race and was able to take some photos other people may not have been able to take. I’ve added pictures to my photo album. To see all photos I took, check out my webshots photo share.
I volunteered as a finishing catcher, which meant that I would be helping/assisting the finishers for about 10 minutes after they crossed the finish line to help assure that their recovery started well i.e. the finisher didn’t pass out or need medical attention in which case we would help get that for them. Since my job was at the end of the race, I spent my time during the day checking out the other volunteer positions and assisting other volunteers. Least favorite was applying the sunscreen. Probably going to avoid that role if i volunteer again. 🙂
Watching for Brian to return to the transition area during the race was a bit tricky. So many athletes, over 2200, and all I had to go on was his projected finishing goal. He was aiming for a six o’clock finish, so I guessed that he would need to come in from the bike about one o’clock at the latest two. The swim was a total guess based on what I knew about Brian’s swimming skills from 2003. 🙂 Since this was his first Ironman anything could be possible. I did manage to catch him coming out of the water, but a bit late so the only two shots I got were of him getting his wetsuit stripped off. His biggest strength is the bike so I was optimistic about his return time. He came in around two o’clock, and I caught a shot of him coming back from the bike and going out for the run.
At the finish, it was awesome to watch the top finishers and catch some very tough finishes, including catching Brian. The energy, the strength, the will of these athletes was overwhelming. Their dedication to their attempt at the Ironman had me in tears when I saw people crushed when they learned they didn’t make the cut off time and couldn’t continue. The finishers from the swim who didn’t make the cut-off were the most heart wrenching. Now, even though a person was finishing, some were crossing on will, alone. Therefore, when people crossed the finish line, there’s no telling whether they would be standing two minutes later or even a second after they stepped across. We, as catchers, had to be ready for anything.
Brian finished strong and walked away seemingly about to recover well. I had to leave him with medical when his asthma started acting up, but I am sure all went well and that by now he has signed up for another go at the Ironman next year.
Congratulations to all of the athletes and especially to my friend, Brian, who worked very hard this year training diligently to complete his first Ironman. YOU DID IT!!! For those who think their dream is lost because this was their only shot whether it was a time goal, a finishing goal, or to take the win remember that getting to the starting line made you a winner. Congratulations, again!
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