Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ironman Florida - from a draft marshal's point of view

Wow! What an amazing day! It started bright and early at 5:15am picking up Lisa W and Missy and the boyfriend dropped us off pretty close to the race site (thanks Jason!). There where people everywhere. We helped Lisa take her special needs bags to the designated places, got her body marked and then she ran off to get her drinks mixed and her bike ready.

Missy and I headed over to the draft marshals breakfast to get ready. Once we got started, we found out that the camera crews where going to take 1/2 of our motorcycles. Hmm. Thanks for the warning guys - we could have easily gotten more bikes if needed. But it was too late. So we where down to 5 draft marshals. Please note that this course is KNOWN for being a high drafting course due to it being fast and flat for the 112 mile bike. Awesome. Anyway - we got our helmets, stripped ref jerseys, cards and note pads and headed down to the swim.

Luckily the gulf was nice and flat. Could not have asked for better conditions! Everyone what we knew who was racing where all in the same place with family and friends. It was so great to see everyone all pumped up and ready to go. Just looking around the beach, you could see thousands of people ready to cheer everyone on. The swim portion consisted for two laps of a buoy marked 1.2 mile circle. Once the swimmers got done with one lap - they had to get out of the water, run about 100 yards and then get back in for the 2nd lap. They had to run over the chip mat to make sure they did the two required laps. While we where standing there cheering everyone on - we saw a guy with FINS!! WTF!?!?

So about an hour into the swim - we had to go up and to meet up with the other marshals and get on the bikes. Luckily, my driver was a local who does triathlons as well - so we where a force to be reconded with. We knew exactly what to look for and how to hopefully break up the packs. Once we got going, it was amazing to see the drafting that was going on. Intentional and non-intentional. After being yelled at by some riders (who knew what they where doing was illegal) and cheered by others who saw who we would give out penalties to - we put a good amount of people in the penalty tents.

But the craziest thing was - was that while we where heading back to the transition area, the last 12 miles was when we saw the worst drafting. The "I'm going to ride this guys back wheel until I finish" vicious age groupers kind of drafting. It was so frustrating not only for the riders they where drafting off of, but for us as well. So once again, we foiled quite a few peoples plans of doing that by making them stop at the penalty tent for 4 minutes. One guy was drafting off of a female pro 2 miles into transition - once we gave him the card she was ecstatic. He argued. Come on now. Put on your big boy pants and get over it.

It was great to hear that the penalty tents where full. Please don't get the idea that we where out to get everyone - but IMFL is known for drafting. We just wanted to try our best to make the race fair for everyone. It can be so frustrating when you know someone is behind you using 45% less energy - but keeping the same pace as you. And there is nothing that you as the rider can do but speed up and hope they can't catch up or drop back.

After we where finished - we where all over the place cheering on everyone completing the final marathon leg. Not to mention sitting in the VIP tent watching the top pro's finish as well. It was such a great experience and I'm so proud of everyone who raced. So inspirational.

Now I have to make the decision - Louisville Iroman in August? It's a hard decision to make. Most of the people I train with are doing Louisville, so naturally I'll be training with them if I'm doing the race or not. And if I don't do the race, I'll be a draft marshal. Decisions decisions.....


Missy said...

Yeah for more draft marshals! It was often difficult to space out but it's the 'intentional'/pace line drafters that chap my ass the most. Thanks for the hard work out there and I'll be at Louisville cheering/volunteering...will you?

Unknown said...

Thanks for volunteering and putting those drafters in the penalty tents, Chloe! I may be go up and volunteer at Louiville - hope to see you!!