Everyone has a story. Each story is one of inspiration, determination, perseverance, pain, gratitude and a multitude of really cool nouns and verbs. This weekend, the last Ironman 70.3 to be hosted in Auckland (as far as we know), was no exception.
Cindy and I were volunteering again as my plans for entry had been dashed after my ankle fracture in September last year. Thats ok though, volunteering is great and we wholeheartedly recommend it. You get to share the emotions and stories with so many great people.
One particular story stands out though. Karen, from Australia, approached me early on Saturday asking if any race wheels had been handed in. You see, Karen had made it to the race, but her wheels were still in ‘Straya’ due to some exceptional yet unavoidable circumstances. She was nervous. Over a thousand competitors, each riding $10k+ bikes with all the fancy zipps, enves and reynolds that you could throw a stick at. And she didnt. Karen is gunning for an age-group win, a spot at the world champs. In her mind, this dream was lost. Gone, because of no wheels.
Karen was obviously distressed. I knew Jason from Triathletes Corner was at the traders expo. Maybe, he’d be able to help. If not, I could – as a last resort – donate my zipps to her. I offer to help out, see what I could do. Karen disappeared to do the rest of her preparations. I go find Jason and see what he can do.
Jason is a cool guy. Perma-tanned, really tall, perma-smiling, dressed head to toe in all the gear he sells (thankfully this time not in his fluro budgie smugglers), he doesnt even wait for me to finish my sentence for help. ‘Sure..I’ve got some wheels’ is the response. Unbelievable; the guy doesnt even falter, question, or think. Simply understands and knows the situation. Good on you Jase.
Karen returns, I break the news. Immediately, she’s in tears. We go and see Jason. They talk, the looks arent good. 11 speed wheels arent that common round here. A few calls are made. The day goes by, and Karen is told to prepare for bad news. About 2pm, all that is reversed. “Rebecca” has donated her wheels and Jason has gone to get them. The clock is ticking though – 4pm and transition closes. 3pm, wheels arrive. 3.30pm bike is checked in.
Karen cant stop grinning – the game is back on! Apparently, now I have naming rights to her babies. Weird..but whatever works!
Sunday, oh my godoclock. Time to get up and get to the finish line to start the day. Thousands of medals, even more towels are racked, stacked and readied to be handed out to the racers as they become Ironman 70.3. I’m keeping an eye out. The anxiety is awful; I guess like a daddy waiting for childbirth. But then, there she is, over the line! I call her name, and Karen erupts into cheers. We hug, I give her the well earnt medal and towel and I sit her down.
We talk about how it went, and she’s sure she’s done good. We arrange to catch up, listen to her story. This time, she wants my babies, as well as the naming rights. Cindy is a little confused, but its OK.
We catch up, and she thinks she’s 2nd in her age group.
Today, we see this:
First place age grouper, and 258th overall.
A bloody legend! Cindy and I are so stoked for you Karen!
A huge massive thank you to Jason at Triathletes Corner, his unwaivering belief in humanity and selflessly helping out has meant the world to myself and im sure Karen. Mate, you need anything; you got it.
His website is here: http://www.triathletescorner.co.nz/
Go buy something from him. Now.