The whole weekend was one big adventure, we hadn’t bothered doing any mass coordination beforehand so people from the team where arriving in dribs and drabs all day friday, some were even already there having taken advantage to make it into a mini holiday.
So when the 9 person minibus turned up the station on friday to find 8 people, plus 2 babies, plus 6 bikes and all the luggage, it was clear that coordination was going to be ‘interesting’ !!
Happily the 2 davids agreed to cycle to the city centre (15km away) so finally we only had to fit 6 people, 2 babies and 4 bikes into the minibus.
40 mins of “minibus Tetris” later (see photo) and we were ready to head to the city centre !!
The ‘Party House’ team made it up to the place once Virgile arrived, and found that it really was a party house, fully equipped for several weeks worth of holidays, with a pool, table tennis, table football, hundreds of games and even a Piano for those romantic nights in !
Saturday was relaxed with everyone taking their time to individually deal with the situation as best they could, finding out what was going on, and coming to terms with what they were about to do. Some went to the briefing which wasn’t worth the time at all (as you had to book your spot in the briefing !!) However the Expo was in the centre of the city, it was warm and sunny and if nothing else Ironman know how to create atmosphere, so everyone was feeling pretty good – although perhaps a little apprehensive.
Julio made his way off to Decathlon for more bike gear (as he was having withdrawal symptoms) and also to help out Mareike, who had discovered she had a screw loose (don’t we all !) but the comedy moment of the day went to Aytug, when he realised that the run equipment (so running shoes) had to be dropped off on saturday afternoon, which left him ‘shoeless’ for the rest of the day because he had only brought 1 pair down with him !!
Later on everyone (again at different times) made their way up to bike check in, and went to see the lake, it was a weird colour but it looked pretty clean (that was probably what was weird about it) and a very long T1 transition run, only Roberto was actually brave enough to don the wetsuit and have a ‘petite sploof’ as the water was not warm …… as we were about to find out.
Saturday evening we all met at 18h30 sharp at Virgile’s brother’s restaurant, who had kindly accepted us ‘en mass’ for an early dinner, which couldn’t have been better as we finally (and for the only time on the weekend) had everyone together, the food was excellent, and everyone left for bed as fully prepared as possible for the next days extravagances.
It was Tom on the earliest coach to the lake who first announced over the Whatsapp group that the swim was going to be cancelled, to begin with nobody was sure, but as day broke at 6am next to the bike park, on a cold and blustery sunday morning, it was confirmed over loud speaker that the swim was cancelled. The water temperature was limit ok, but combine that with cold windy conditions on the bike and the organisers feared having to deal with issues. (all sorts of things could happen) Probably the right decision, but still disappointing, however as expected with Ironman the change was well managed, new start times for the rolling bike start we displayed, and the coaches were opened up for everyone to go back and keep warm in- which is exactly where we all went…..except for Alexandra.
You see the start times were done by category, starting with the ladies, so as Alexandra was the youngest lady of the team, it mean she was going to be the first to start, so she didn’t make it back to the coach / car instead crouched down between the bikes (to get out of the wind) and started chatting to all and sundry on whatsapp 😉
On the opposite end of the scale the ‘Veteran Men’ category had a bit of a wait on their hands – their new start time – 9:24 (it was 6am !!)
So everyone was together in the coaches / cars waiting for the time, quietly happy to have a little more warm relax time. David B was so annoyed to now not complete a ‘real’ Ironman that he immediately registered online for HIM Luxembourg. Finally the new start times came around, and people meandered back to the bike to get ready for the rolling start. 8 at a time every 5 seconds, or was it 5 at a time every 8 seconds, who knew, but it worked well, barriers either side of each starter, just enough time to get into clips, then off to the roar of a generous crowd.
Everyone will have their own individual accounts of the ride, some destroyed it (Luis, Alex, Julien) some discovered that it helps to actually do some training (Nick) others enjoyed the scenery a little too much (Julio) and happily only one person (unhappily) fell victim to the harsh wind and tight corners. At the 30km mark David B decided better to stack it himself than to go right off the end of a hairpin corner, taking another competitor with him. Later Xrays showed no significant damage, plus he got up and 25 mins later got back on his way and completed the course – so perhaps the strongest result of all from him.
As for the run, its was pretty good, 3 laps, each with 3 drinks stations. Starting with a long slow hill, then a sharp hill, a run though a park, a couple of loops to see who is around you, then the run down the Cour Mirabeau to the fountain and finish line (or next lap), which was really great to lift the spirit – lots of people cheering you on, hands to slap etc…. this really makes a difference as for that brief couple minutes you forget about the pain and just enjoy being there…. then its back to the long slow hill.
What was nice was that there were so many of us, that you just had to wander around the finishers area for a few minutes and you would bump into someone from the team, we were all finishing at different times dues to different start times, so nobody knew who was first or last or anything. Plus free Beer, Red Bull and all the waffles you could eat, makes you understand why we pay a premium for the Ironman brand (although it feels more and more like a business nowadays – they cheaped out on the freebies !!)
That evening (once everyone had made it back and showered) we minivan’ed it up to the Party House for a meal altogether, logistics and fatigue meant that we couldn’t get us all together (shame) but we still managed to have celebratory sausages and beer together – although it has to be said we were all glad to call it an early night !!!