Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ironman Wisconsin from this Marshal's Perspective

A week ago the Ironman circuit came to town... sort of. It came to Madison (about 1 hour and 40 minutes north of my home). The week preceding Ironman "Moo" was a bit rough as I sprained a muscle in my back and two weeks of consistent workouts came screeching to a halt. It only hurt when I moved so at least it wasn't horrible. Wait a second, it was. Well, by Saturday I was nearly back to 80%. Saturday we held the marshal meeting. Caught up with Jimmy about details and the season and then headed off to go for a run - pain or no pain.

I made it 1.0 miles. Rapidly improving.

The evening was spent at Russ and Liz's place in Fitchburg. It was the best place I stayed for a race all year.

Race morning came after a great night of sleep and we rolled into the volunteer parking garage at 5:00am. Went to see if we could catch up with a few friends and wish them luck. Then verified the pro helmets were legal and to meet the moto drivers. As soon as the motos showed up I found someone with a bike that was comfortable. I hunted down the BMW and Honda Goldwing drivers immediately. I rode with Pat (from Sun Prairie, WI). Pat is a great guy and very good driver. He is out there every year.

As for the race, I was to cover the pro men and/or women. Jimmy took the men's leaders. I followed next then Jay and Glenn. I had the men's pro chase pack who did a very good job riding cleanly and actually - more than cleanly. They were about 11-12 meters apart and motoring. The race for those guys really came when #41 of the pro women's race came ripping through them like a hot knife through butter. She attacked them repeatedly on the steep hills trying to drop them. Other than that, my work was very quite in Madison. I wrote a total of eight penalties. I was in a lull of the athletes. I had pros that I had to watch but the amateur athletes were either behind or ahead of where we were on course. Even the crazy hills seemed less populated. No problems getting up the hills. *We did almost get "doored" by an 8 year old kid and a parent not watching for anyone other than themselves. Other than that it was very, very calm.

I did catch one bandit. A guy who looked to be 40-50, white male jumped on the wheel of #30 - about 1" off his wheel. I was going to give him a drafting penalty when I noticed he didn't have a number. This bandit did take the time to mark his calf, arms and put on a neoprene chip strap. When I asked him where his number was and if he was racing he said, "I'm just out for a ride. These are public roads." Actually no, they aren't. Ironman pays for a permit to be on those roads. While a person can ride their bike on the roads they cannot "willingly" interfere with the race and you certainly cannot take aid. I asked the man (nicely) to back off of the pro athletes if he wished to continue his ride. Then we came up to an aid station where he proceeded to take food and drinks. Now we have a situation of "theft". We rode up to the next sheriff officer and told him of the situation. At the following intersection the cyclist was arrested and his bike was confiscated. This is a typical bandit situation. If someone rides... not much we can do other than ask them to stay right. If they start taking anything from the race - we get the police involved.

I did hear many stories of crazy fans and lunatics who turned off their brain when they turned off the alarm clock. The scariest one was from Jay who saw Joe Bonness almost get killed by a stupid, female on a motor scooter with a large "W" flag. She was riding it up the hill next to athletes. She turned into oncoming athletes (several pro men and pro women) narrowly missing them as she misjudged their approaching speed, nearly ending their day, season and perhaps even a career. When I rolled through on lap number two I saw a police officer talking to the woman, but didn't think anything of it at the time.

A typical Ironman day.

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