Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ironman Canada Part 1, The Rant and the Swim

The last time I wrote anything for this blog I was about to sign up for the 2012 Ironman Canada. This was to be the 30th anniversary of one of the most popular Ironman races in the world. I figured the organizers would pull out all the stops for such a momentous occasion. At a minimum I thought the shirts and hats would be extra cool. But more about that in a minute. About a week before the race we started hearing rumors on Facebook that the president of Ironman Canada had sold the rights to the race. Which seems like a weird thing to me, the whole business side of races. I mean I get the idea that there are brands and branding rights. I also get that someone collects money and pays bills and all of that. What is weird to me though is the idea that because of "business" there is no loyalty. Or least not the right kind of loyalty. It's like when the Oakland Raiders moved to LA or the LA Rams moved to St. Louis, WTF. You can at least make a case with the football teams that the teams belonged to someone. Players come and go as do coaches but the team as an entity could be transportable, so to speak. But Ironman Canada is an event. Much like say the Indy 500. Now you can have other 500 mile races in other places. But you can't have the Indy 500 in Memphis. Yea I know it's not IM Penticton and Canada is a big place. But IM Canada is as much about Penticton as the Indy 500 is about that racetrack. The race course in Penticton is what makes THAT race what it is. So for the Ironman folks to think that you can just move to a different location within Canada and still call it Ironman Canada is bullshit, in my opinion. You want Ironman Whistler, cool. Ironman Kelowna that's fine too. But Ironman Canada was a great race that lasted for 30 years in a cool little town called Penticton.
Now to be fair with my bashing, I think that the politicians of Penticton deserve a little as well. I don't think that 1400 Americans, give or take, are going to show up next August to compete in Challenge Penticton. We, Americans, don't know or care about the Challenge brand of races. Not that they don't put on great events, they may, don't know anything about them. I do though think I know Americans. We pay $10 more for something because it has the mdot logo on it. We like the word IRONMAN. It just sounds cool "I'm an Ironman". Who wants to say "I made it through the Challenge" or will it be " I'm a Challenger" Maybe it translates better in German, but I don't think it will catch on here. At least not right away. I do hope though that it is a wake up call for the WTC. Quit acting like the quintessential rich guy running a monopoly. Don't forget it's us age groupers that pay the bills. WE buy the gear your "sponsors" sell, pay the fees and most of us have served as volunteers on more than one occasion. So quit screwing us over. If we get hurt and can't race give us our money back, or at least most of it back. When 2800 people sign up a year a head of time there is really NO reason to run out of swag bags. It's like when Seinfeld made the reservation for the rental car and when he got there they had no cars. ~2800 signed up for the race so they should have had at least that many bags. I personally know 1 person, Kathi, who couldn't race because of a broken arm. So if anything they should have had at least 1 extra bag, right. There were 2 pages of names of people that didn't get bags when I wrote my name down. Enough of that now lets talk about the day. We stayed down in Osoyoos so that means getting up extra early to make the ~40 mile drive. It was a beautiful sunrise as we drove into town. The water was flat and not a cloud in the sky. After kissing Jayne goodbye I headed to the lake. Not because it was time but because I really had to pee and the line at the honey buckets was crazy. So I zipped up the wetsuit and waded out and took care of things. As all the other competitors waded into the lake I moved up to the front of the holding area. I started right in the front and center. I could hear a lot people chatting behind me but most of us in the front row just kind of stood there staring at the course in front of us. Chomping at the bit, we just wanted to go. Then the horn sounded and we were off. About 2 minutes into the race and I got my first ever kick in the face. Right square in the jaw, still sore as I write this. I took about 1200 meters before things thinned out enough to swim comfortably. I did get stuck behind this one jackass, for what seemed like a long time, who could not swim straight to save his life. Every time I would surge a little to try to get by him the he would cut me off. I finally broke down and decided I would have to kick a little to get by him. Everyone that has seen me with a kick board knows that was a huge deal for me. After that it was was pretty smooth sailing. On the way back to shore I was just on the inside of the buoys swimming stroke for stroke with a woman, pink swim cap. I think her and I were the only 2 people swimming in a straight line. We had people cut into us, and we passed people but her and I stayed about 3 ft apart from each other and 3 ft off the buoys the whole way in. I did try to surge little right at the end meaning I tried to kick again. Only this time I was in about waste deep water and kicked a rock. What a dumbass! Up the beach and over the timing mat and I see Kathi Best. I asked her what was that time and she pointed to the clock 1:09 SWEET! 3 minutes faster than the last time I did this race.