Ironman Marathon Bike Escort

This year I had the opportunity to experience Ironman Wisconsin like I’ve never experienced it before—on a bike, escorting the second place male during the marathon portion of the race. I heard about the opportunity through a member of my bike team who was recruiting volunteers for the job. I said, sign me up! It sounded like a volunteer job that was almost too good to be true. I felt really lucky to have the opportunity to experience the race in such a unique way.

Before my runner came out of transition, I was almost as nervous as if I’d be doing the run myself. My instructions were to stay 10 to 20 meters ahead of the athlete I’d be escorting, to not talk to the athlete, and to stay with my assigned place—the second place male (which would require some swapping with other bike escorts if there were place changes among the leaders). Veteran escorts advised me that I’d be riding fairly slow and that I’d need to keep turning around to gauge the speed of the runner behind me. They warmed me that my neck might be a bit sore by the end.

The first male I escorted was a friend from college—Thomas Gerlach. Although I only stayed with him for a few minutes (he was quickly passed by another runner), it was fun to start out with someone I knew. Larry was escorting the third place male, so we swapped our runners then. Most of the race, I escorted Justin Daerr out of Boulder, Colorado. I liked him—he had nice wavy, blond hair and was kind enough to warn me before he ducked into a Porta Potty for the first time (if he hadn’t, I think I might have panicked when I turned around and realized my runner was no longer behind me…Oh no, I’ve lost my runner. Epic fail). Justin started out strong—he was cruising. But then, he started to duck into Porta Potties more consistently, and his pace slowed. Eventually, he was passed by Eduardo Sturla from Argentina, who I stayed with through the finish. Eduardo didn’t have wavy, blond hair, but he did have very short shorts. I admit, it was a bit tough to part with Justin—I had grown somewhat attached to him during our twenty mile journey together.

The toughest part of my job was during the second loop, when I had to announce repeatedly to athletes we were passing (who were on their first loop of the run course) that the second place male would be coming by on their left. I think the most important part of the job was to let the spectators know (by way of the signs on our bikes) who were the leaders in the race. Otherwise, the leaders would likely be barely detectable in the sea of other athletes, especially during their second loop.

The things that struck me most while volunteering as a bike escort were that there really weren’t all that many spectators out on the marathon course for the professionals’ first loop. Most of the crowds seemed to materialize when the bulk of age-groupers were on the course. And perhaps not all that shockingly, I realized that professional triathletes experience many of the same struggles that we age-groupers face during an Ironman. Like, they actually use theĀ  Porta Potty. Sometimes more than once. Who knew? I thought they were superhuman. Turns out those professionals are more like us than we thought.

When I finally rounded the corner onto King Street for the final stretch into the finish line, I pulled off the road and watched proudly as Eduardo cruised in for second place. My work was done. It was the closest I’d ever come to winning an Ironman.

Category: Madtown Lovin', Racing and Training 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Ironman Marathon Bike Escort”

  1. Julie

    I’m sorry we never saw you. For the whole race (and up until I read this ‘race report’), we thought you were 2nd place FEMALE. I’m glad you were just too fast with your athlete for us to see you on the course. Great work out there! And do you have your golden ticket for 2013…? :)

  2. Dione

    It was so fun to see you out there! I agree, it was quiet for the pro’s first lap. We got to our spot at Camp Randall just as the leaders had passed it, and it was like a ghost town, with our lonely little claps echoing as each pro passed us. I guess it is a bit lonely at the top…next year I think I’ll slow down some so that I’m not so close to the leaders and will have better crowd support. Ha! :)

  3. Miranda

    Love, that you got to do this, what an incredible experience!!!! I always love your detailed stories, it’s like I’m right there experiencing it for myself! And, girl……..I don’t doubt for a minute that if you had your sights on an IM win, that you couldn’t do it! You are an amazing athlete. Stronger than most every athlete I know. You are incredible and I know you could get just as close! ;) Can’t wait to see you in Dec/Jan!


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