Metal Petal digs deep in the heat
Coming back over the bridge, with about 30km to go, we faced a strong headwind after being sheltered by trees for most of the leg. This sapped our already-tired legs and for many proved the worst part of the race. Everybody felt the wind and struggled to maintain previously good speeds. This was offset by the tailwind of the final stretch into transition– a lovely way to coast and ease the legs down for the run.
First into transition was Fat Buddha in a bike time of 5:30:24 – his fastest IM bike time by some 50 minutes – quickly followed by Pebble, Smiley Lady, Melissa and Petal. KegKiller brought up the rear in 7:27:24 – still a respectable time given his problems (more of which later).
A Crocodile Caper
At the start of the run it was scorchingly hot but as the afternoon progressed it thankfully cooled down to make the run a much more pleasant affair. That’s if anyone can ever describe an IM marathon run as 'pleasant' - it’s not. It’s tough – very tough – and if anyone can run the whole distance they’re either superhuman or haven’t been trying on the bike. Thankfully, aid stations with fuel, water, coke, gels and snacks are positioned every mile or so to help the athletes keep up their energy levels. Most adopt the tried-and-tested 'walk the aid station, run between the aid stations' strategy but it can still be grim out there. A marathon is still a marathon in anyone’s books.
The two-lap run was again predominantly flat - through the residential back roads of PCB and into St Andrews State Park. Here we spotted a notice: "No food or drink beyond this point – beware of alligators". What? Alligators on an IM course? Surely some ploy just to keep us moving? No – it was true, there are alligators in that park but thankfully not too close to where we were running!
Fat Buddha was finding the run leg tough to start with and was soon passed by a speeding Smiley Lady, followed shortly by IronMelissa. It was looking like an all-female showdown to the finish.
The crowds on the run were superbly encouraging - the Pirate kit was easily recognised and commented on. Shouts of "Arrrrr Pirate!" and "Great kit!" were to the fore and there were supporters in fancy dress, others playing accordions and singing, even an unofficial beer station (which FB took advantage of on the last return leg) – the locals were all joining in the spirit of an IM. Shouts of "Awesome!" and "You’re an inspiration!" sounded strange to our cultured European ears.
The flat course led to fast times for everyone. First home was Smiley Lady in 11:16:58, followed by IronMelissa in 11:45:56. Brian the Snail brought up the rear in 16:08:42 but he didn’t care - he can now call himself an Ironman. All previous Ironmen saw PBs – FB cut a massive (in more ways than one) one hour 20 minutes off his previous PB and Barlist dipped under 15 hours for the first time. Petal got her reward too, finishing in just under 13 hours after her problems in Austria.
The only major disappointment was for KegKiller who recorded a DNF. Having endured diarrhoea for most of the day after the swim, a lack of energy as a result of this finally caught up with him at about mile 14 of the run and he decided to call it a day. A great shame, but he’ll be back for the next Pirate outing to Ironman France in 2008.