St. George Ironman 2019

I tell people that I have done the Ironman every year since it first came to St. George, Utah, but I have never crossed the finish line.

It's true.  I have.

But my way of doing the Ironman isn't the way a lot of people would think.  I "do the ironman" from the top of my kayak or paddleboard and support the swimmers in the race.

In case you didn't know, the Ironman is a Triathlon event.  Athletes swim, bike and run long distances in each leg of the event.  It's an amazing thing to accomplish as an athlete.  It's also amazing to be involved as a volunteer.

Every year for the Ironman, I wake up early on that Saturday morning and head to the water's edge hours before the sun is up to meet the rest of the water support team.  We get assigned our stretch of water and some instruction on how to do our job and then we head out across the lake to take our spot.  

Every year my husband and I have jumped in and done our part assisting in keeping swimmer safe.  Over the years the two of us have been a part of a team that has rescued hundreds of swimmers or just let them catch their breath for a minute before continuing. 

This year as assignments were being handed out to water support, Bill and I were asked to be the Lead Paddlers to show the swimmers where to go and lead off the Ironman event.  That.  Was. Awesome!!!

 

It was truly an honor to lead these amazing athletes into the water and around the swim course.  

I am not the greatest swimmer.  I mean, I can swim. I'm just not a fantastic swimmer.  I hate having my face in the water.  I have only done one triathlon where I swam.  It was a mini sprint distance.  So it was very short.  I can't remember the exact distance the swim was.  But I came in dead last in the swim.  Yup.  I can swim.  I won't die out there.  But, I'm nothing like these athletes I was leading on my paddleboard.

These ladies were FAST!  Holy cow!

I wasn't paddling really fast, just a nice steady pace, and these ladies were hot on my tail.   Boards are usually faster than swimmers in general. So the fact that they kept close to me is incredible!  I was impressed. 

After heading around the entire race course and seeing these ladies out of the water, I went back to help with other swimmers and keep them going.

Our job out there is 2 fold:

1 - Keep them safe.  Aid struggling swimmers if needed and get those that need  help to emergency responders ASAP.

2 - Keep swimmers on course.  Often swimmers get disoriented on the course and will start veering one way or another and end up quite a distance from the marked course.  Corrections over and over cost them a lot of time and they swim a lot further than if they stay on course.  So we like to catch them quick.

My other job was to make sure they didn't cut the corner buoy and shave off distance they are supposed to be doing to avoid a disqualification.   

Most swimmers are grateful for the corrections and help.  But occasionally, there's the one in the thousand that tried to cut the corner that I stopped with my board.  He got a little upset and then went the direction he was supposed to be going.

Eh, you can't win em all.

I saw my friend Heidi during the swim.  It was so good to see her.  I was her fitness bootcamp instructor years ago. She used my board to catch her breath before moving on in the course.  It's always good to see former clients doing awesome things and accomplishing their goals.

Most of the time I can't see the people I know during the swim because they all look the same.  Swim caps and black wetsuits, faces down.

I had a lot of friends in the water that day and I congratulate and honor their accomplishments.

For me, I am going to stick with paddling ON the water and cheering them on.  And I will continue to tell people that I do the Ironman every year.

If you haven't volunteered for this event or other amazing events in your area, get out and do it.  It's such a great experience. 

Plus the music they play as the athletes line up is too good not to dance to.  So of course I had to do a little shakin' my groove thang on my board before it all started.  

 

 

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