Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fan Interference

The recent craziness in Philadelphia with two idiots running on the field and interfering with the game got me thinking about triathlons, Ironman, and marathons and risk management. One thing for sure, I blame the parents. My dad always told my brother and I, "If you ever get into trouble at school or with the police, the punishment you get from them will pale in comparison to what you get from me." Understood. Say no more. He meant "indentured servitude" when under punishment in the Mitera house. For something like this... I think we probably would have cut the lawn with nail clippers one blade of grass at a time on our knees. Let's hope that the courts are harder on this guy and another idiot who ran on the field last night. Taze them all. Then put them in stocks in front of the stadium to be taunted by over-served fans.

In football, we don't see this as often as the men on the field are HUGE and in pads. I forget who did it, but during a Monday Night Football game a linebacker knocked out an idiot on the field with a great clothes line. When questioned about it he said, "He shouldn't have been on the field." (and grunted)

On a tangent, one thing for sure, BP is learning (or should be) regarding risk management. How do you work in oil exploration and NOT have an IMMEDIATE response for HAZMAT situations? We have them on our roads. Why not on our (the World's) oceans? Current planning is like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic. My hope is that BP as an "ethical corporation" (according to their documents) will pay for the clean up.* (Recent revalations have shown that means $75M according to their insurance and the law. A far cry from the full bill, but I digress.)

Ironman (WTC) took a HUGE step forward when they banned family and friends from crossing the finish line with athletes. I am a huge fan of what WTC did. They offered the fans entry BEHIND the finish line so family could present the medal to their family. It is actually better (in my opinion) than "crossing the line" with the family.

I encourage ALL Kokua athletes to race HARD all the way to and THROUGH the finish line. At Ironman Canada (2001) I crossed the finish at 11:07:00 but magically my race "official time" was 11:07:11. Huh? The timing mat was in the BACK of the finish area. It didn't matter regarding a possible Kona slot, but what if it did? I crossed the line. Took three steps and stopped. The guy behind me went right through to the finish area exit while I gasped for air. He was credited with a faster time. Even with the roll down, we missed Kona, but think about the what if situation.
In 2004, at Ironman Wisconsin, one of my athletes qualified in 5th place because she ran to the line. My athlete here is Nicole. Nicole and Jodi were side by side coming to the finish. Jodi reached to grab her child to run through the finish with her. Nicole's brother Jeff (also a client of mine), her husband and I are screaming at her to SPRINT! Jodi hears us over the crowd and now is racing Nicole who wasn't blowing kisses to the crowd quite yet. The initial results show Nicole NOT going to Kona. Tuesday after the race. Nicole got a call from Ironman officials as one of the gals in front of her was DQ'd for having her husband run with her during the marathon. Apparently a group who she isn't friends with sent pictures to officials and got her DQ'd. The beneficiary? Nicole, who went to Kona the following year.

Can you imagine training that hard, racing all day, and then allowing someone to take Kona from you because YOU didn't race?


World Triathlon Corporation will implement a new finish line policy for all do domestic Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events. Beginning with Ironman 70.3 California, friends and/or family members will no longer be permitted to cross the finish line or enter the finish chute with participating athletes.
This is GREAT! The reason is people ARE racing to the finish. Another? Well, how about shaken baby syndrome? Every year before this ban we watched infants bouncing around while some racers sprinted by. My personal favorite happened in Kona. A grandmother with a walker (I'm not kidding) tried to keep up with her son across the line. Large purse, walker, and enormous bottle of water in tow. She stumbled and nearly fell right in front of a sprint to the line by the M50-54 race for the WIN in Kona. What if she fell? What if she interfered with the guys racing to win their age group in Kona? What if she broke her hip? What if she fell into her grandson and broke his arm?

Safety is paramount at all Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events. Allowing non-participants to cross the finish line compromises event security, serves as a distraction to other finishers and disrupts our secure finish line operations. Family and friends are encouraged to reunite with their athlete in the photo/post-race area just beyond the finish line,” said Steve Meckfessel, Ironman’s Chief Operating Officer.
In response to ongoing athlete feedback, Ironman has chosen to adopt this policy to ensure the safety of all participants, volunteers and fans. As with other sporting events, Ironman strives to provide a competitive and memorable event, one that allows all parties to enjoy the entire Ironman Experience. This policy will allow each competitor adequate time to celebrate their accomplishment without interfering with other finishers. Athletes who choose not to respect the new policy will receive an automatic disqualification (DQ).
What if someone interfered? These courses are all open. Leaders get an escort with a mountain biker (usually a volunteer). Should this person be armed with pepper spray? Should we use a police officer? Maybe.

In the my finishing picture from the 2006 FL 70.3. Notice anything missing? Like me?! The guy in front of me jogged across the line with his daughters as I out sprinted three men (look to the left of his shoulder in the picture). I am behind the girl on the right. This was 2006 FL 70.3. We were racing to qualify for Clearwater. The three of us did (via roll down - nobody wanted to go to Clearwater that first year in FL, now it takes a 4:30 to qualify.) I went to the left and gasped for air against the fence and caught a nasty look from 2XU guy. The other guys got a tongue lashing from him right before he got yelled at from an official right in front of his daughters.

Remember these examples?

Fan getting run over by a media moto.

Death of a spectator trying to cross at the wrong moment.

Same kilted man disrupted '03 auto race

ATHENS, Greece -- A defrocked Irish priest bolted from the crowd and grabbed the marathon leader about three miles from the finish Sunday. The Brazilian runner wound up with the bronze -- and a special award for sportsmanship -- and the former priest was arrested.
Cornelius Horan
Cornelius Horan also interrupted the British Grand Prix, and he tried to disrupt Wimbledon.
Cornelius Horan, 57, was wearing a green beret, a red kilt and knee-high green socks when he attacked Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima, knocking him into the crowd. De Lima was able to recover and finish, but was passed by two runners about a mile after the incident.
"I was scared, because I didn't know what could happen to me, whether he was armed with a knife, a revolver or something and whether he was going to kill me," de Lima said.
"I don't know if I would have won, but things would have been different," he said. "After that, it was hard to get my rhythm back. It really distracted me."
Horan received a one-year suspended sentence Monday and was fined $3,600.
"This means he will probably do this again and get killed, as in Formula One, or kill someone," de Lima said.
Athens police sources identified the intruder as Horan, who has been barred from practicing as a priest for the past decade. He once published a book called "A Glorious New World Very Soon To Come" that predicted the world was about to end.
The attacker Sunday night had a piece of paper attached to his back bearing the message: "The Grand Prix Priest Israel Fulfillment of Prophecy Says the Bible."
In July 2003, Horan, in a costume similar to Sunday's, ran onto the track at the British Grand Prix in the middle of the race and stayed there for more than 20 seconds, forcing Formula One racers traveling at more than 200 mph to swerve around him. He was carrying a sign that said: "Read the Bible -- the Bible is always right."
British authorities said Horan also attempted a protest on Wimbledon's Center Court during a rain break, and tried to disrupt cricket and rugby matches.
On Sunday, Horan jumped from the crowd, ran across the street and grabbed de Lima. A policeman following the leader on a bicycle jumped off and helped free the Brazilian.
De Lima, whose lead had been slowly shrinking, was able to get back into the race. But he lost several seconds as a result of the attack, and eventually was overtaken by Stefano Baldini of Italy and Mebrahtom Keflezighi of the United States. De Lima finished third.
The Brazilian track federation protested the result and sought a duplicate gold medal for de Lima, but while the jurors expressed sympathy, they said they couldn't change the result. Brazil said it would appeal to sports' international arbitration panel.
"I'm not going to cry forever about the incident, although it broke my concentration," de Lima said, "but I managed to finish and the bronze medal in such a difficult marathon is also a great achievement."
The International Olympic Committee said it would present de Lima with its Pierre de Coubertin medal in recognition of his "exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values."
"I think the Olympic spirit prevailed and I prevailed. I was able to show that determination wins races," de Lima said after receiving his bronze medal at the Olympics' closing ceremony.
"What prevailed here was the Olympic spirit. Never mind the result of the appeal. I'm very happy to have won this medal."
When the incident occurred, dozens of flag-waving Brazilian fans at the stadium that marked the marathon's end were watching the front-runners on a giant screen. They suddenly went silent and the huge crowd gasped.
The police sources said Horan arrived in Athens just before dawn Sunday aboard a British Airways flight.
Horan was to be taken to a prosecutor on Monday, the sources said. It was unclear whether he would be charged or remanded for psychiatric evaluation.
On Aug. 16, a Canadian man wearing tights and a tutu jumped into the Olympic diving pool after a competition. He was convicted of interrupting the games and sentenced to five months in prison, although he remains free pending appeal. by The Associated Press
How about in tennis?
Most tennis fans must be familiar with Steffi Graf, a legend of Women's tennis. She once won 22 Grand Slams (Women's Singles) and 1 Grand Slam (Women's Doubles). Those who know Steffi Graf must also know Monica Seles. In 1993, Monica Seles was stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg, Germany. It is said that the assassinator was a fan for Graf. Frightened by this, Seles hadn't appeared on the tennis court for two years. In the second half of 1995, she came back. In 1996, she won her nineth Grand Slam in Australia.
In triathlon, I think we need to be prepared for anything. The race isn't over until you cross the line.

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