We’ve just come back from Port Macquarie where my husband, Matt, competed in IronMan Australia. This was his first full length iron man and he has been training pretty hard for the past 12 months. I am not going to tell his story though, you can read it for yourself on his blog cyc.bike. This post is going to be written from my viewpoint as a wife, competitor supporter and spectator of the event. Warning: This post will be pic heavy.
We arrived on the Friday before the event so Matt could register and pick up his competitors pack. We also had a look around the IronMan exhibition and picked up a few supporters items. The kids picked up a couple of the IronMan bells which they were banned from using until event day. We then needed to do shopping and settle into our apartment. When we arrived at the apartment, we were really happy to discover we had a perfect view across the road to Flynn’s Beach.
Matt was most concerned that the apartment was up four flights of stairs and had an additional stair case internally to get to the bedrooms. He was worried he wouldn’t be able to get up there again after the race. Once we were settled, he had to go back into town for the competitors dinner so the kids and I made our own hamburgers (Madame’s request) and watched a bit of TV whilst we waited for him to come back.
IRONKIDS & SUPER HERO FUN RUN
On Saturday there were a few other events on. The boy competed in the IronKids event which didn’t include his favourite leg of the bike. Whilst most of the kids just dove in the water, The Boy was clearly testing it out before committing. He didn’t swim properly either I think in order to keep his hair dry, but his dog paddle was good enough to overtake some of the other kids. He did look like a pro running through transition though, despite putting his shirt on backwards. Now that he has done a few kids triathlons he is getting better at the run too. Madame is still too young for the iron kids, but she was very excited to have a run in the Kids Foundation Super Hero Run. She requested her usual butterfly face paint before the race. She ran the whole way and was very happy to have finally got a run in something (she can’t wait until she is 7 and can do an iron kids too).
PREPARING FOR RACE DAY
Matt then had to put all his gear into transition. Luckily he had prepared it all the day before but that still didn’t stop him from having to go back in twice to check that he’d got it right. We then spent the afternoon checking on the little plastic duck race that was also being held (I didn’t get any photos of this), again for the Kids Foundation, and then spent some time walking around Port Macquarie and playing on the rocks at Flynns Beach. Given the early start the next day we were all into bed early.
IRONMAN RACE DAY
Sunday morning, fireworks were set off at 4am ensuring we were awake. Matt was up and about but I decided to lie in a bit longer. We were all up and ready at 5am and out the door at 5.20am. We arrived in the transition area in the pitch black with everyone else doing last minute checks on their gear.
It started to spit a little and I was worried it was going to rain but it stopped after a few minutes. We then headed over to the swim start area where I helped Matt into his wet suit. A photographer from the local paper stopped by and took a photo of Matt with the kids and then we said our good byes and good lucks. The kids and I headed around to the other side for a better view.
The start was a rolling, self-seeded, start and we had no idea where Matt would be but we took a few photos of the start anyway.
It was really cold and the wind was picking up so the kids patience was beginning to run out. It was almost 7am. We then headed back to car a few streets away and then to the apartment where we could watch the bike leg and the kids could still have some entertainment without getting too bored. We also needed to record our chalk messages on the road for Matt before the Pros came through.
A few minutes after this message was scrawled on the road, the leading pro came through. He was quite a long way in front. As much as I would have liked to sit out there and watch for 5-6 hours, the kids patience doesn’t extend much beyond 15 minutes. So we headed back inside so the kids could watch TV, play games on their electronics, and so I could read. I was continually checking Matt’s progress through the check points on my phone trying to determine when he would pass our apartment but we missed him the first three times because the split times were either missing or completely hard to determine in relation to the other competitors. I managed to catch one of the competitors numbers as they rode by and checked their split times against Matt’s so was able to figure out when he would pass us on the last leg of the bike. So about 15 minutes before I estimated he would be coming by, we headed out the front of the apartment to stand by the side of the road.
The kids were shaking their bells and yelling “Go Daddy” and I was taking photos and yelling and waving “Go Matt”. He gave us a smile and a wave and was gone again 30 secs later. That was around 1.30pm. We went and got ice creams and some supplies (since we were low on sugary things I was sure Matt would need later) and then headed back into Port Macquarie around 3pm so we could try and watch some of the run leg. We had to park a few streets away from the event areas because it was so busy (naturally) and walk. We got a few hundred metres from the car and had to head back as a child had left their bell in the car. So we went back, grabbed it, and started walking around from near the transition area where I parked to the finish line. We walked alongside the run course so we could cheer people on and hoped to catch a glimpse of Matt. We stopped for an hour near one of the drinks stations but we didn’t see him and I checked his splits and they were all messed up. Apparently Matt was running at 1:37 mins/km. I checked the numbers of some of the other competitors and they were running similar times so I knew something was amiss. This made it impossible to figure out where he was on the course and when I would see him. So we headed towards the finish line as the kids were getting “sooooo bored”. There is a park near the finish line so I set up close to that so the kids could play and I could keep watching.
The finish line area was completely packed and I knew there was no way I would get very close, especially with my kids in tow. So I took a photo of it and kept an eye out for Matt.
It started to get really cold as the sun was setting. I grabbed all the jumpers out of my bag and we rugged up as we waited for Matt to go past. Sadly I didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of him although I know he must have passed me a couple of times because there were some people who went by that I remembered having seen before. As it started to get darker and the website still hadn’t sorted out the ridiculous split times, I tried to listen to the names being called out over the speaker. Some of the runners were now coming past with glo sticks attached. Of course, the kids wanted to know where they got them and how come they couldn’t have any. I still hadn’t seen Matt and I was very worried I was going to miss him finish the race. But I knew he would be close to his goal based on his swim and bike times.
Not long after I took this picture, Matt ran by on his way to the finish chute. I was too busy cheering and yelling to worry about pictures at this point. I grabbed the kids from the park and we ran towards the finish line to hear over the speaker “Matthew Jessup, you are an Iron Man”. I looked up at the time over the finish line and was so pleased to see that he had not only accomplished the goal he had set himself, he had well and truly smashed it. We then made our way to the area behind the finish line with lots of other families and friends of the competitors anxiously waiting for them to emerge from the finishers tent. It was seriously dark and cold at this point. About 5-10 mins later Matt came out with a massive smile on his face. I forgot all about the camera at this point as he wanted to tell me all about the race as we headed to the car and to get him some food (who wouldn’t be starving after exercising for most of the day). We got to the car and he started to shiver with the cold. I gave him a jumper and headed out to get take away for dinner. We were going to collect all his stuff from transition but it wasn’t open so we left it until the next morning. When we got back to the apartment, he started shivering again. I guess rapidly stopping exercising and the drop in air temperature sent his body into overdrive. So he had a warm bath and then snuggled up on the lounge under the covers to get warm. I’m glad he didn’t finish the race any later than he did and felt sorry for those who were still out there in the cold and the dark. Another early night was in order for all of us.
THE DAY AFTER
The next morning we headed back into Port Macquarie to pick up Matt’s gear and take a photo of him in the “shirt of the day” that almost every second person we saw was wearing.
The kids had one final play on the equipment before we headed off for a relaxing day of shopping and sight seeing. We saw a few other Iron Men about. Some of them looked like they had recovered quite well, like Matt, and others could barely walk. It was a great weekend and it was awesome to see Iron Men and Women of all ages and abilities out there competing. Port Macquarie is such a great venue for it as well and we look forward to heading back there soon.