In this post I'd like to get into a topic surrounding the race and what came out of it afterwards. Long has been the conception that ITU racing is a "wet runners" race, that is to say that the bike is meaningless and just serves as a precursor to the run. In Ironman drafting is cheating, so how could it acceptable anywhere else??
In hindsight, the timing of the Lance Armstrong / Simon Whitfield shampoo/blowdry ITU twitter exchange could not have come at a better time. Armstrong voiced his view of the ITU format, which I think represents a lot of 'old school' educated triathlon figures. ITU has never really been accepted, besides once every 4 years, in the general triathlon public as the pinnacle of the sport.
Take the typically common exchange:
Person: " you do triathlon....so have you raced an ironman?"
ITU athlete: " yea, but no i race the Olympic distance"
Person: " oh....I see....maybe someday you'll be able to do one?"
ITU athlete: " yeah, maybe."
After experiencing the leadup, race, and attention afterwards in San Diego I feel as if ITU has made a significant jump in respect and appeal over essentially 3-4 days. There was plenty of publicity leading up towards the home soil race for the Americans as it was their final selection point. Stories on each athlete and their journey to that point. However, the race did the talking. The race opened the eyes of the Age-group masses as to what ITU racing is at the highest level, WTS. During the swim WU you could hear the spectators commenting on the speed and tenacity already. In the middle of the bike there were points screaming through transition where you could almost hear them holding their breath. During my brief spell on the run where we bolted out of T2 the reactions were even more heightened. When you see a sport in the flesh you truly get a grasp of the speed and skill involved, J.Brownlee demonstrated this quite well. Placing 54th in the event, the amount of sincere congradulatory comments was very humbling for a back of the packer. There was definitley a buzz in San Diego last weekend, like an alarm clock of realization.
Macca's involvement in the ITU has raised the awareness. Many people were there on Saturday to see Macca. To see him place 30 something gave the public a good understanding of the level of racing here. Triathlon Magazine captured Macca after the race in quite a geniune moment explaining the toughness of ITU racing. It couldn't have come from a more respected and accomplished athelte in Ironman & ITU. He was an ITU World champ in the early years, 2xIronman World Champ, and now back at ITU. There is no better spokesman for how ITU has evolved and how freakin fast the athletes of today are in ALL 3 sports.
This has to be my favourite photo from the weekend. What contrast going on here...
Lastly, a parting shot exiting the water for a second lap of shampooing:)
Athletes exit the swim at ITU San Diego by Rich Cruse