Wednesday, October 15, 2008

People, Ironman and Media Lights

Ironman people...nutty, crazy, fringe, aggressive, physically gifted, driven. There are many types of folks at Ironman. You see all kinds. Those trying to get on TV. Those making a statement. Those just out to prove something to themselves. Some trying to help others in an "Aloha Spirit" kinda way or because they got help themselves somewhere along the way. Others just trying to soak it all in.

In the penalties I wrote - 9 all told. 4 pro and 5 age group/amateur - all the age group folks apologized for "being out of it" and not paying attention (That's why it is a penalty...safety.) Others were "not paying attention" - again...safety. That's ok...serve your 30 seconds to 4 minutes and no harm done - just be careful. At 40 -50 mph with the wind at your back on the Queen K things happen quickly. Even the pros I penalized (except one) apologized...the one apologized later after the race. Heat of the battle...believe me, you didn't hurt my feelings. I only call what I see and while I am a stern official I am also fair and consistent. I think as a racer myself - that's all I can ask for. I believe the officials Saturday called around 200 penalties for 1,600 some people. This is only a statement of fact, nothing more. You have a lot of people with similar (read: great) athletic ability all racing at the Kona Ironman...the big show. You bet folks are going to be jacked up and racing hard. Stuff happens. You have 140.6 miles to deal with it. If you got penalized you have two choices; 1) whither and die - cry at the side of the road 2) snug your hat down and get after it. Which would you do? The race is, after all, called Ironman. Just think of all the athletes that missed by one place or 11 seconds, etc. just dying because they aren't there in Kona. How would they react?

I am ashamed at some of the things I saw. Desperate attempts at getting on TV like wigs, signs and other antics. However, for every one of those types of people there were five to seven examples of good sportsmanship and aloha spirit. THOSE are the Ironman people who drive this sport. Ms. Keat helping Ms. Wellington - a penalty? Sure...it is a stop and go. Yellow card. Wellington had been at the side of the road for 12:45; add another 30 seconds to her time and she only wins by 12 minutes. Big frickin deal. What was missed by the media is that Keat and Wellington aren't exactly drinking buddies even if they are "teammates". The second place woman was overheard complaining about "no penalty called" on either Keat or Wellington to the media. Read the rule book What about Timo? He blew off two (TWO!) penalty tents when an official gave him a yellow card. (Remember - stop and go penalty - 30 seconds.) If you agree with the call or not...stop and go dude! Even if he got a 4 minute penalty (which could have been called) for drafting it still would not have effected his overall placing.

Getting an article about you or a TV story on you is just that; a story. It isn't a documentary on you. It is a flash in time of you at a place.

You still have to be comfortable in your own skin.

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