I collect a medal . Shiraz gets offered one but turns it down (the plonker!). BrianTheSnail takes lots of photos – thanks again, Brian. Then I grab some water. Then we try to head back round to the course to welcome home Jim, Melli and a few others. But I’m in serious need of toilet time…. so I only catch Melli before it’s time to head to the Iron Dome where the Athlete’s Garden provides queues, t-shirts, some dodgy pizza, some goulash and some fresh clothes (note for next time – best not leave a rotten banana in with my change of clothes).
The next few hours contain some pain as I continually try to rehydrate, then rush for the loo, then try to rehydrate, then rush for the loo,… but the athletes in the tent are buzzing and on the big screen you can follow a continual stream of finishers including lots of pirates (including top effort of the day by GOM – a truely classy finish!)
Also bump into Dangerous Dave and Firestar who’ve been pulled off the bike course by the medics, into Petal who’s been pulled in T2 and I hear about Gumps who’s apparently set the new pirate record for number of drips – superb effort by all, it’s heart breaking that you didn’t make it, but shows such guts that you all tried so hard in the first place. No doubt at all that all of you can and will be back.
Time ticks away. I do a few beer runs for the spectators. I see Squishy head for the finish. Top marks for style. Then there’s the wait for Meldy… There’s talk that it’ll be close… But when we see her approaching there’s no doubting the result. A superfast finish, she sprints past the pirate supporters, runs down to the grandstand, charges though the finish arena, and zooms over the timing mat – really it takes a full rugby tackle from Fat Buddha to stop her. And 12 months on from IMDE the big screen smile says it all :-)
And so the cheeseeeee-DJ moves on to “the final countdown”, the crowd welcome home the last few finishers and then at the stroke of midnight the fireworks start and M-People’s “What have you done today?” booms out over the grandstands.
What a lot of europop hype! What a lot of M-dot marketting! What a superb party and a great way to celebrate :-)
I’m still wearing my athlete wristband now 7 days on from the race and I fully intend to make everyone who knows me sick of my “ironman” wardrobe… I’m proud to have competed, I loved racing alongside so many pirates, my heart goes out to those who didn’t finish – I look forward to your future victories! And my final thoughts are with the supporters – to my own sherpa, Shiraz, who put up with so much through training and who really knows what speial needs are all about; to Strike Force Alpha for the super soaking; to the tadpoles for the smiles and cheers; and to the virtual crew back on the forum – it meant a lot to know you were watching. Without a doubt the pirates have the best support team in the world – thanks!