After I settled into our room and took a well needed shower, Wendy and I went to Boston Pizza for dinner and indulged in a healthy meal (salmon, steamed vegetables), and finished with a not so healthy chocolate explosion cake that we shared. Given that I had skipped lunch, I didn't even flinch. Down in ma' belly, decadent calories! We called it a night pretty early afterwards, as the alarm clock was set for 4am.
I slept pretty well myself - but of course, I was completely exhausted and I had no race anxiety to keep me up all night. When the alarm clock went off, I was almost anticipating it. I had no issues waking up and I was ready to go go go, and so excited to see my friends taking on The Beast.
I ate a peanut butter and jelly bagel, while Wendy ate her honey nut cheerios, then we were on our way. I wasn't very hungry, but I made sure to take a lot of snacks with me to have enough to eat until midnight. On site, I waited for Wendy to get her bike ready, then we went inside for a potty break and that's when I noticed that she didn't have her chip on her ankle. I rang the panic bell and together we started running around, asking the volunteers where the Sportstats tent was. To our surprise, there was no Sportstats tent near transition, but I knew from Ironman Mt. Tremblant that they should have chips at the swim start. However, we could not afford to waste too much time going back and forth from the beach to transition with just under 30 minutes to start. After asking half a dozen people, eventually we found a volunteer captain who had the idea of calling Nick Stoehr, the race director (or maybe it was Rich Trenholm), and he confirmed that they had spare timing chips at the swim start. Phew! All we had to do was to run there and hope for the best.
We said our goodbyes on the parking lot near the beach, I took Wendy's flip flops, then I joined the spectators' side with the plan of going as close as possible to the mass of athletes and check on Wendy to make sure that she found a chip. There were lots of athletes and finding friends in the sea of green and pink caps wasn't easy. I managed to see Amanda (from our club) and Kim (from Two Years to Kona), but the music was loud and all my screaming didn't help. I was desperately trying to find my bestie Carol, but to no avail. Big sad face, as I had promised her that I'd give her a big hug before the start.
20:30 in the live stream video from the swim start (Won with One red top).
calling her at 30:54 (I had no idea that I was on camera). After all athletes entered the water I was somewhat relieved and went to ask whether Wendy's chip remained the same and if I could track her online. I was reassured that her chip has been paired with her bib and that after the swim it will appear in the results. Okay then, that sounded rather promising. And on that note, I walked over to the swim finish.
Carol, that I started screaming like an idiot. I ran up after her to give her a hug, which I managed to do just before she hopped on her bike. Then I came back to wait for Wendy and once she came out of the water, I followed her back up. Who said spectating wasn't a sport? It wasn't even 9am and I was spent. She went in transition to her bike, but not before having a swarm of volunteers coming to cover her in sunscreen. I found the scene absolutely hilarious and I could not resist but taking a snapshot.
|The Sunscreen team in action|
|Look who I found in transition! The fantastic Captain Tracy.|
|Paul showing everyone how it's done|
Around 5pm I asked to be excused since I was getting tired and I really wanted a little break before starting the next shift. I went inside Deerhurst and noticed that they had dinner food for the athletes and volunteers, but I didn't have a wristband that would give me access to it. Since I joined the bike handlers team impromptu, I was only given a tshirt, but no wristband - so I went over to the finish line where I checked in with Kari and got my wristband. Now I was legit and I could eat. Not even 5 minutes later the same wristband was being cut and I could put some food into my plate. I took a sub, pasta salad, an apple and another banana. I ate the pasta and the fruits and decided to keep the sub for later. I charged my phone again for a bit and spent about 30 minutes catching up on social media, lounging on one of the fancy chairs inside the building.
However the clock was ticking and I was missing all the action at the finish line. I put my backpack away, I said Hi to all my volunteer friends and joined in the fun. It took me a few minutes to understand how this finish line was working and oops, I must have jumped the line before the other volunteers a few times until Dorothy kindly reminded me that I should line up like everybody else. I looked around me and that's when I realized how many of us were there. Whoa, quite the blue and red army!
here). I could not have been more proud to catch her. I gave her the medal too, then together we took the slow walk towards the massage tent where she had her legs looked after. I don't know who took the picture above, but it's special to me and I know that I'll cherish that moment forever. I am happy to have it immortalized.
As the night fell on Deerhurst, the athletes kept coming in, tired but elated, finishing a journey that may have started months or years before. I was absolutely astounded to see so many first time Ironman finishers that came in under 12h. My mind could not comprehend how come so many of them liked the course. Out of all North American races, Muskoka is in the top 5 for toughness. Yet, people must be gluttons for punishment. Or they trained for it really well, or they were so freaking high on endorphins that they had no clue what they were talking about. Most likely a mix of all.
Carol started her run without her chip, so it was hard to track her, but eventually she made it and I felt so relieved (what's it with my friends and their timing chip)!! I gave her a long, teary hug. She is one of the crazies who chose Muskoka as their first Ironman and because of health issues I was nervous that something may have gone wrong. But she is also one of the strongest people that I know and I had no doubts that she'll want to finish no matter what. I was assisting another athlete when she crossed the line because without a chip they could not announce her arrival in advance, but I found her right after she got her medal and the moment we had at the finish line won't be going away from my memory any time soon.
last year at IMMT. Muskoka was her third Ironman and because of circumstances, her goal was to finish. There she is, looking awesome as usual, a big smile on her face, despite running on huge blood blisters. After giving her too a very sweaty and squeeshy hug, she left to get some food and I continued my shift. There were still 40 min left and about 50 more athletes on the course. Last athlete finished with about 3 minutes to spare and it was rather anticlimactic, since we were told that there were two more to follow, but actually none were left (because of some error).
After leaving the finish line I managed to find Wendy who was chatting with friends made on the course. I checked her bike out, then I left her with her belongings to wait for me to come back with the car from the air strip parking lot. It took me a little while to find the shuttle bus (it has been changing locations every year) and I almost got in a panic, thinking that I may have missed the last one. Thankfully I saw a bus silhouette in the distance and I ran to it just before it closed its doors. Fifteen minutes later I was back with the car and to the hotel shortly thereafter where I collapsed in my bed, happy to be able to rest and appreciate everything that happened.
I will leave you with 2 videos from the event, so you can appreciate as well the way this day unfolded for athletes, volunteers and everyone else who came to witness history being made, right here in Muskoka.