Forum v Ironman Frankfurt: Storming Finish

Sun, sand, triumph and heartache - the Pirates of the Main...


Posted: 26 July 2006
by Jj


A sea of Pirates on the 3.8K swim
Pre-race, the city was teeming with yellow and stamped with skulls and crossbones. The question ‘who are these pirates?’ was asked in 25 different languages. The roadsweepers, the shopkeepers, the motorbike officials – all had a wave and a cheer for this motley crew. But how did they fare?

With the sun bouncing the heat off Frankfurt’s cobbled centre onto thermometers that showed 118 degrees the day before the race, there were justifiable concerns from every quarter. The announcement that – for the first time in European Ironman history – no wetsuits would be allowed, knocked the fragile confidence of several of the weaker swimmers. As they marched down to the water’s edge the smiles were tight, the faces pale. Then they were off, and flashes of yellow were soon obscured in the thrashing maelstrom that typifies an Ironman start.

One by one, pirates emerged – MisterM, IronMike and Medium Dave the first three, and strong times from several others – but as the cut-off neared there were concerns for the last few. Where were the novices Donald, Kanga and Plum? And where was Cougie, already 45 minutes over his last Ironman swim? Eventually three of them arrived within the time limit, but Plum was still out there. At last, the exit almost obscured by a thunderous downpour, he came, he swore, he clambered over the deflated archway and headed for the bike, allowed to continue by sympathetic officials.

The torrential rain marked a hard first hour on the bike. The road was slippery, visibility was poor, and many racers, including pirate Keg-Killer, could be seen shivering as they pedalled. But many had got off to a storming start, with five pirates completing the full course in under 5:30, another 13 of them in less than six hours. Iron Rose and RichardM, friendly but steely rivals at the top end, had just three seconds between them on the bike leg. Strong, steady performances were marred for some by falls – Zilla, chasing IM Switzerland DNF demons, came off hard but continued – and for others by punctures, Swiss Bobby within the first kilometer!

Then, disaster as the Pirate Ship of Fools was scuppered. An unusual cut-off for the first lap of the bike took eight prisoners, five of them novices, three of them with successful Ironman finishes in previous years. Shattered that their first IM experience should end even before halfway, Meldy, Bendy Jan, Keg Killer, Donald and Plum nevertheless rallied and lent their voice to the horde of pirate supporters later in the day, along with Ironwolf, Barley and Cougie – who completed the marathon ‘for fun’ anyway, and did his supporting along the way.


Pebble shows off his bike skills
Halfway through the bike leg, the relative coolness afforded by the thunderstorm began to give way once again to relentless heat and sunshine, and riders were already rimed with salt and grimacing as they approached feed stations. With the pressure of the tight first loop cut-off behind them, the remaining 40-odd pirates ground on to the second transition, taking on board water and sustenance and preparing themselves for the marathon ahead. And all the while the temperature was rising.

Many say it’s the run that’s the true test of the Ironman. It’s here that novices – as so many of the pirates were – can make the mistake of pushing too hard on the bike and tiring their legs too much for the run. But the advice they received, the training they’d done, their own good sense and the iron will of every pirate that completed the bike leg paid off – every one of them finished.

The top end of the list was predictably strong and fast; RichardM, Nick Rose and Cartman all between 3:30 and 3:50 for the marathon, with half the PSOF managing sub five hours. Even Oxymoron, suffering from a painful foot injury and a blister the size of Frankfurt, reaped the rewards of a strong swim and steady bike when he still crossed the finish line in plenty of time after a gruelling 6:40 run leg.

The Frankfurt run is over a four-loop course, ideal for spectators and competitors alike as there is so much contact and support along the way. While almost every pirate summoned a grin, some gratitude and good-natured abuse, it was interesting to note the progression of the race in the faces of those leading, and those in the second half of the field. As the leaders ground their teeth to maintain their pace it got tougher and more serious. As the novices passed on their second and third laps their grins got wider and their steps – apparently at least – lighter as they realised ‘I’m here, I’m doing it, I’m going to finish!’


Family affairs: Slummo crosses the finish line with his biggest fans
Five novices – Toucan, Medium Dave, MisterM, Leo and Gumps – looked strong all the way round as they headed for their sub-12 results. Our own Daniel Benson, having a hard time on the first lap, picked up his pace and his spirits as he continued and was virtually skipping home on the final loop. Newlywed WildWill, Eccentric, Fogggy, Swoosh and DTs seemed attached by an invisible rope as they passed by within minutes, sometimes seconds, of each other, crossing the finish line close together.

As one by one they crossed the finish line and tottered off to the athletes’ village to be showered, fed, infused if necessary, the city centre grandstand begin to fill with the yellow shirts of supporters and swell with even non-piratey emotion. Recovered and euphoric they joined the crowds to wait and sing and dance and clap and wait for their final few shipmates. As the skies opened once more on the finishing line party, the triumphant Zilla roared his way home, the ghosts of Switzerland laid to rest. Swiss Bobby charged through, Debbo was joined by her Little Drummer Boy to throat-breaking cheers, Kanga’s relieved and triumphant grin spoke antipodean volumes, Oxy made his audience wonder how on EARTH anyone could hobble that far, and JD, hot on his heels, elicited more than one tear from the watching crowds.

All finishers. All aboard. Now watch out for the press-gang for IM Austria 2007…

There were too many pirates, and too many stories, to tell every tale here. For individual race reports, go to Pirate Race Reports.

NameTIme Position Swim Bike Run
Cameron Brown (non-forumite) 8:13:39 1 50:25 4:31:29 2:48:17
IronRose
9:56:04
153
1:05:10
5:06:23
3:39:20
RichardM
10:00:09
187
1:15:44
5:06:20
3:32:02
Cartman
10:34:16
475
1:15:34
5:31:22
3:51:52
Toucan
11:07:59
609
1:08:57
5:15:34
4:38:23
Dave
11:08:00
611
1:04:35
5:38:48
4:17:59
Mike Gray
11:21:14
716
1:03:50
5:19:47
4:27:44
Leo M
11:40:18
853
1:24:16
5:38:15
4:29:31
Monique
11:45:48
889
1:25:48
5:53:59
4:19:57
Gumps
11:47:31
906
1:24:18
5:37:17
4:36:44
IronMike
11:51:54
942
1:05:22
5:40:35
4:58:50
Nospringchicken
12:12:18
1071
1:31:00
5:44:20
4:40:58
Lindi
12:13:43
1079
1:33:25
5:44:36
4:49:56
Zuppy
12:13:47
1080
1:19:22
5:59:30
4:48:47
Jo
12:25:11
1160
1:49:13
6:08:16
4:18:04
Slummo
12:34:17
1213
1:41:23
5:49:29
4:56:34
Avalaf
12:35:00
????
1:10:00
5:50:00
5:20:00
MelissaP
12:43:26
1271
1:27:39
6:26:08
4:39:30
Pebble
12:47:18
1296
1:47:57
5:46:40
5:04:19
kps
12:47:20
1297
1:27:11
5:50:46
5:16:12
mellifera
12:51:21
1323
1:34:18
6:22:41
4:45:25
Dermot
12:56:19
1353
1:46:39
6:09:42
4:44:50
Daniel Benson
13:08:48
1388
1:29:41
6:15:01
5:11:35
Kryten
13:09:38
1404
1:44:56
6:35:58
4:31:45
Swoosh
13:28:09
1488
1:33:04
5:52:53
5:53:15
Foggy
13:33:27
1505
1:26:08
6:24:30
5:28:09
WildWill
13:33:42
1508
1:29:11
6:27:59
5:23:10
Eccentric
13:36:11
1516
1:32:39
6:27:44
5:21:12
DTs
13:39:07
1525
1:38:33
7:08:33
4:40:21
Ergo
13:52:22
1584
1:26:07
6:56:27
5:20:00
G-Sport
13:54:39
1594
1:26:07
6:52:08
5:22:28
Imp
13:57:37
1602
1:57:27
6:12:31
5:29:02
Garr
14:12:11
1642
1:32:45
6:59:45
5:29:02
Crashie
14:15:02
1651
1:32:17
7:02:23
5:26:02
Ferret
14:16:20
1659
1:28:45
6:50:06
5:42:47
Zilla
14:23:14
1677
1:34:55
6:33:16
5:59:18
Swissbobby
14:54:30
1756
1:49:02
6:53:49
5:55:07
Debbo
15:06:05
1770
1:36:53
7:16:18
6:03:27
Kanga
15:11:28
1778
2:08:56
6:24:18
6:19:31
oxy
15:19:55
1788
1:30:14
6:56:18
6:40:33
JD
15:21:31
1792
1:51:23
7:09:37
5:5:49
Barley
DNF  
1:45:36
   
Meldy
DNF  
1:48:08
   
Bendy Jan
DNF  
1:47:47
   
KK
DNF  
1:54:48
   
Ironwolf
DNF  
2:12:43
   
Donald
DNF  
2:25:09
   
Plum
DNF  
2:25:09
   
Cougie
DNF  
2:14:54
  5:26:54

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