Then there is the wait – the excitement of the swim over, where lots of fans are rooting for their loved ones – kids asking ‘is s/he here yet?’ – sprinting from the end of the swim to the bike transition point, trying to catch a glimpse, a smile, a ‘hey you – you did great’ moment – supporters relieved that the first stage is over. Excitement. Adrenaline pumping. Lots and lots of chatter.
Then the mass exodus – some of us with nowhere to go just ramble around the town, looking for a quiet spot to read, dream, sleep. Families discussing their next move. Hoards climbing into buses to continue the tracking of their athletes – the waving, the shouting, the encouragement. Volunteers getting ready for the next stage – food, refreshments, setting up for the next transition, cleaning up after the first stage.
But the time flies quickly enough – after all there’s lunch to be had, and you know there must be a glass of wine with your name on it somewhere. So you do the responsible supporter thing – you pack up, take a cool breezy walk around the town, find a restaurant and monopolise a table for as long as you dare.
But your brain can’t really function in this supposed relaxed environment. You are enormously aware that your athlete is running the race of a lifetime. You check the tracker, over and over again. If there’s a glitch, you quietly curse the race organisers. If there’s a slow down in his time, your mind races to imagine all sorts of reasons for the delay. You spend your time moving from one part of the course to the other until you realise that ‘Waiting’ is, in essence, the name of the game.
Your only option at this point is to work with what you have. Line up, like all the other supporters, and congratulate and cheer on those who are already crossing the finish line. Soon enough, your athlete will be making that last trek across the red carpet to the finish line receiving the now coveted acclamation of
“John Doe – You. Are. An. Ironman.”
(Some pics in and around Chattanooga)