We Need the Pros at Ironman

While I don’t think triathletes will ever get to the level of major stars, I do believe the spectator landscape of sports is changing.  I have all but lost interest in the NFL, MLB, and NBA, and think the type of person who does endurance sport is ripe for the same pattern.

The Long-Tail is a marketing buzzword that essentially means there is unique commerce space for the “little guy.”  With relation to sports it means there will be fewer mega stars and more opportunity for lesser-known athletes (and sports) to “sell” their niche.  The internet allows people to find what they want, rather than have LeBron James jammed down their throat all hours of the day.  (I’ve touched on this opportunity before).

Daniel Bratscher IronmanChattanooga

I’ve always enjoyed tracking pros at races, but sometime around 2:00 on Sunday at Ironman Chattanooga, it dawned on me . . .  I really like pros at races.  It’s one of those things that never ceases to inspire, and as an age group triathlete (and fan of the sport), that is a tangible phenomenon.

Earlier that morning, I stood at the swim exit waiting for the first pros to get out of the water. There’s been a ton of criticism about the ease of Chattanooga’s swim but that takes nothing away from the fact that the first two swimmers I saw, Brandon Barrett and Eric Limkemann, were absolutely hammering down!

Later, I eagerly watched (from my lunch table) the bike splits for an indication of the course and knew (despite four extra miles) we had a fast one brewing.  When the pros get over halfway through the bike, you’d better be plotting your next move because they come in quick.

By the time we got to the Run Out, we missed the first pro, but watched the others mount their chase.  The level of intensity blows my mind.  Here are these guys and girls who just crushed a swim and 116 mile bike settling in for a 26.2 mile chase on foot.

Jennie Hansen Ironman ChattanoogaIn all of my races, I have only had one situation where it turned into a battle at the end.  I was on the verge of third place at Rev3 in an Olympic this year and had to find a completely new gear.  Let me tell you, it hurts, and I can’t imagine how it feels to be way out in front with a pack of great runners working to knock you down.

As a spectator, this is great drama.  It’s the race within the race.  We have our friends racing, but there is something more intense brewing between the seams.  And frankly, watching a bunch of guys like me slog by in an Ironman gets a little old after a while.

We stood just under a mile from the finish and got to witness the first three women come through within minutes of each other.  Their faces, their body language, their focus, all captivating.

Ironman has proclaimed they intend to get serious about pros next year, but that also seems to mean they won’t be at as many races.  That is unfortunate but bigger pay days and intense competition are a good thing.

I’ve decided to do my part and give these athletes a little extra publicity when I can.  The more I get to know the names, the more I am drawn to the sport.  It would be awesome if more of these pro triathletes became household names, and knowing that we can actually compete in the same races with them makes it even sweeter.

 

 

 

 

 

Pro Pics from Ironman Chattanooga

Andrew Drobeck on the run out.  8:34:08 – 9th Place

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Dude goes first at Ironman Wisconsin, then brings it back with a 2nd at Chattanooga.  Daniel Bretscher, freak of nature.

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Angela Naeth, first place woman at Ironman Chattanooga.  If you were following me @miketarrolly on Twitter you would have been one of the first to know this.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Third place female at Chattanooga Jennie Hansen.  She was making a strong finish for second right here, but came up a few minutes short.

Jennie Hansen Ironman Chattanooga

The Shock Jock of Endurance Sports, Jim Lubinski hammering up the run out on his way to 12th place with an 8:41.

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Doug MacLean steeped in the run out.

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The “Voice of Ironman”

Someone once told me, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”  Lately it’s been, “Everywhere I go, there HE is.”

Over the last 5 weeks I’ve driven to Louisville, Wisconsin, and Chattanooga for Ironman.  Once to compete, twice to spectate, and within minutes of arriving to these wonderful cities, a powerful voice of inspiration floods my ears.

Mike Reilly has announced 138 IRONMAN races and if you haven’t seen one, you have no idea how impressive that is.  His voice rings in the air from 6 am until midnight and the pitch never waivers.

I didn’t make it to the Swim Start in Chattanooga, but Mike was there, pumping everyone up and calming nerves at the same time.  When you nervously await the start, as an athlete or a spectator, his voice is omnipresent and the words always seem to be right.

I had a brief meeting with Mike at Louisville pre-race as I was noodling around near the sound board.  I was about to walk into a furnace and Mike knew it.  He likely knows more about IRONMAN than most.  On this day I was trying to impart my strategy when Mike politely stopped me and simply said, “Take it easy out there and try to have fun.”

He was right, of course, but I didn’t listen.  I went after the run like a dog in heat and it ate me alive.

Yesterday, he stood high above the crowd in Chattanooga as the last swimmer battled to get out of the water.  He did everything in his power to help her get home.

It was one of those moments that stops you in your tracks.  She was alone in the water, battling demons while hundreds watched her labor to reach shore.

“Keep going, we’re all here waiting for you!”  “Doggy paddle if you have to, you can do it!,” said Reilly with a combination of compassion and the tenacity of a father.

His day started before sunrise and he was still going as I watched the live stream from my hotel room until 12:15 am.  His energy and passion for what he loves was just as enjoyable to watch as the finisher.  He danced, joked, shouted encouragement, and dished high fives as the last runners crossed the finish line.

At 12:16 the lights went out and Mike Reilly was gone from my sight, but his voice was ringing in my core.  “You are an Ironman!”

People always ask me why I write about Ironman and travel around to races and I think the simple answer is, I love it.  I love to surround myself with optimistic people who stop at nothing to push their limits, and Mike Reilly has certainly been a great representation of that lifestyle.

Here is Mike Reilly from this morning after handing my new buddy, Dave Richter his award and Kona slot.

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Incredible Day at Ironman Chattanooga

First of all, what a great city for an Ironman.  Chattanooga is amazing and it lived up to a year long hype for me and several friends from Nashville who came to watch a blistering race.

It’s 11:58 and I’m back in the hotel after being on the course for about 15 hours and plan to write more in the morning at one of the awesome coffee shops, but for now, here are a few pictures, starting with my main man Corey Coggins who once again raised the Ironman bar for me.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Marc Swain, who worked his ass off all year and loves training so much he inspires everyone around him.  So happy for him to have this under his belt.  Many more are surely on the way.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Pumped for my good friend Vince Wyatt who kicked some ass today.  Seemed like I saw him swimming at the YMCA every time I worked out.  He had a great attitude the whole way and says he is a huge Crushing Iron fan.  Congrats, buddy, I know the little man is proud!

vince wyatt Ironman Chattanooga

My old college buddy Pete from Wisconsin called and said his friend Dave Richter was racing this weekend.  Well, Pete’s friend not only raced, he qualified for Kona in 45-49.  I’ve never met him, but luckily caught this picture of him at the last minute.  Can’t wait to catch up with him in the morning and hear his story.

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Crushing Iron may have been the first source to report Angela Naeth as the woman’s winner by taking this photo and posting on Twitter .5 miles before she won the race.  Congrats Angela!

Ironman Chattanooga Run

Great shot of Jennie Hansen, who was just out of second place and digging hard, but wound up with 3rd and her friends all over Twitter were tuned in when I posted this pic.  Nice race, Jennie!

Jennie Hansen Ironman Chattanooga

Here’s a great shot of 2nd place male, Daniel Bretscher who was one finished behind fellow Iowan Matt Hansen.  Iowa is the Australia of the US.

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Ironman Chattanooga Transition Layout

The first thing I noticed at Ironman Chattanooga is this hill the racers must scale after getting out of the water.  It is at least 100 yards from the Swim Exit (which would be in the right in this photo) and a pretty steep climb.

Ironman Chattanooga Transition

Here’s a look from the other angle.

Ironman Chattanooga

This is the Swim Exit and while I was getting my Ironman-Geek on I learned that tomorrow’s current will be far less than it has been.  I’m hearing it was 26,000 today and will be in the 8-10,000 range tomorrow.  There is also a serious question about water temperature and most I talked with were thinking it would NOT be wetsuit legal.  But I have a feeling they will figure out how to get people into their wetsuits.

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Here are bike bags.  Unlike Louisville, which I just did, the bike and run bags are separate.  The bikes are just off to the left of this photo and the Bike Out is waaay down at the end.  I expect relatively slow T1 times in the morning.

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Here’s a shot of the run bags.  Bikes are in the background.  Run Out is to the left of this shot and goes back toward downtown.  Run transition times should be pretty quick.

Ironman Chattanooga Run Transition

These guys are getting ready, but hopefully we won’t need them.

Ironman Chattanooga

Ironman Wisconsin Tribute Video 2014

As promised here is the full video I shot at Ironman Wisconsin.  It includes the Mass Swim Start, the bike hills, and run in downtown Madison.  It was an awesome and inspiring day at Ironman Wisconsin and I hope you like the video.

Please share with your friends and follow me on Twitter @miketarrolly or sign up for email notification each time I post (about once a day).  Thanks!

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VIDEO: Ironman Chattanooga Swim Current

The current is a HUGE topic for the folks at Ironman Chattanooga.  If this video below (shot by Crushing Iron personnel) is any indication, there will be PR Swims all over the course on Sunday . . . but, I have read Friday current (due to energy demands) is typically way stronger than the weekends.  We shall see . . . and we will also soon know if a lot of racers will be making the questionable choice of wearing a wetsuit.  For race updates on Sunday, follow me on Twitter @miketarrolly.

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The Scene At Ironman Chattanooga

I’m not in Chattanooga yet, but as you know Crushing Iron has the hook up.  And I know there is a lot of anxiety and nerves floating around, but don’t sweat it, I’ll be there around noon ready to capture your pre-race Jitters on camera.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter for race updates: @mtarrolly

Here are a few pictures from the river, revealing a beautiful setting for an Ironman . . . along with the absolutely greatest sign by this youngster.

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Ironman Chattanooga Image

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Love Like You Race

I don’t usually get caught up in viral video, but this one was different.  It was raw and resonated at the core.

He pours it on the line.  We are greedy and selfish people who don’t stand behind what we preach.  We are self-centered and worried more about what people think of us than doing the right things.

We are zombies, moving through life hoping the next corner will unveil something that excites us even more.  Something that jolts us into living again.  A quick fix that blows off the rust.

The reason I signed up for Ironman was because I wanted to crack open my shell and watch corrosion fall from my bones.  I wanted to drain the toxins and learn how it felt to “feel.”

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and it still isn’t.

Everywhere you look there is trickery and temptation promising to make the hardest things simple.  Ploy after ploy convincing us that something worthwhile doesn’t take time and focus.

In our hearts, we all know it’s not true, but we have become a society that accepts the lie.  We have given in to the fact that “having character” is a rare and don’t expect it from people.

We are a “headline society” that is content without knowing the full story.  We overreact to five or six words and set our judgements in stone because admitting we were wrong is too hard.  We don’t believe it’s necessary because so much is wrong, and truth, real truth –at the core kind of truth– doesn’t seem to matter.

So, I continue my journey to live with right intention.  I try not to hide from my faults and am getting better at accepting them.

Nobody’s perfect.  Let’s make mistakes, learn, forgive, include, and transcend.  Oh, and love like you race.