Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Right Way

The Calm Before the Storm

Ironman Coeur d’Alene was this past Sunday; I was happy that my friend Lori was racing because that gave me an excuse to drive over and experience the race day energy.  During my races I got so focused on my own little tiny world that I tended to miss all the positive vibe around me, but when I’m a spectator I’m totally tuned in.  The amount of focused, forward-directed thinking at these events is truly palatable.  Personally I love it.

Men in Green and Women in Pink
By tradition all Ironman races begin with a cannon shot at 7:00 AM. Once that cannon goes off all hell breaks loose with a mass start swim: 2500 fit amped up athletes going into the water within the first twenty seconds of the race.  The Coeur d’Alene start is particularly dramatic as the beach is narrow and the water is deep from the start – no wading it’s get in dive forward and start stroking.  It’s a unique site, I can’t think of anything quite like it.

2500 athletes on the beach
So here’s where the bummer comes in.  This year the wise decision-makers decided to start the race at 6:35 with a “wave” start.  Basically what a wave start does is to spread the field out according to self-seeded swim times, and it’s used at nearly all non-Ironman events.  “Non-Ironman” are the two key words there.  An Ironman is made up of several basic building blocks, one of them being the mass start swim.

I’ll admit that the wave start at this year’s race was executed flawlessly and I’m sure that a lot of the athletes appreciated the tamer, more stress-free start, but in my opinion it denigrates the experience and it erodes, just a little bit, the definition of Ironman.

Reinhold Messner and Peter Habler were the first to summit Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen.  They had trained for decades in preparation; they endured, they suffered and in the end they succeeded.  Today any old turd with sixty grand and zero rope time can hire a guide to literally drag them, sucking from an oxygen mask, to the summit.  Are they in the same “club” as Messner and Habler, I say no. 

We Americans have wholeheartedly bought into the idea that easy is best and that the safest route is the only route.  I say if you’re going to do something do it the right way, and that oftentimes isn’t the easy way.  

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