Sharkie and I got to the expo early. The packet pick-up seemed well organized. The athletes received a shirt, socks, and a very cool canvas bag. There were several vendors there and I got a new pair of goggles.
After the expo , we attended the noon athlete meeting. It lasted about and hour. It completely covered the logistics of the race. The race officials admitted that since this was a point to point race with 2 transitions that it was a huge logistical challenge. It seemed to be well thought out though. Each runner in the Full-distance received 6 bags to use for before, during and after the race:
- Pre-swim -(Spectators were not allowed to drive to the start of the race, therefore, the majority of spectators stayed at T1 to cheer on the racers. Racers were given a bag before the swim to place any items such as warm clothes and shoes that they needed to "dump" before getting in the water).
- Special needs (bike)
- Special needs (run)
- Transition 1 (swim gear)
- Transition 2 (run bag)
- Post Race (needs after finish)
All bags are to be returned to the racer at the finish line (Battleship). So in other words, all your belongings would be available for pick up after completing the race...no need to return to T1 for any reason and no need to worry about giving up any items (e.g. special needs-bike bag at mile 60: take whatever items you need out of bag for 2nd half of course, place unwanted items in bag like arm warmers, give back to volunteer, receive bag back at the end of the race with arm warmers).
We were very impressed with the thought put into this first running of this race.
Sharkie and I arrived at the start at 4:45am and checked in to do body marking which was at T1. The temperature was 40. It was hard to mark on some of the athletes because they were shaking so hard. They announced the water temp was 67. All the athletes for the full were loaded on buses and taken to the end of the waterway at Wrightsville Beach.
The highlight of body marking was meeting challenged athlete Trish Downing. I was honored to do her body marking.
Sharkie and I were then re-assigned to direct the swimmers coming out of the water to T1. The run from where the runners climbed out of the water using ladders to T1 was around 300 yds. As they went by us , there was alot of shivering and teeth chattering. The other problem was trying to run with numb feet on the black topped road. Many athletes were complaining that they could not feel their feet. Ouch! Even though it was discouraged, there were some athletes who strategically placed shoes by the swim finish.
Some athletes experienced hypothermia due to the cold temps....medical professionals were on hand to provide help as well as hot water showers for those needing to warm up. From what we heard, every athlete who started the swim, continued on to the bike.
All the swim times were fast because of the incoming tide and current. Also the salty ocean water was a bonus. The first man out of the water completed the swim in approximately 40 minutes and had an incredible lead over the rest of the pack....he was part of a relay team.
On one more note, the spectators were also not allowed by the dock area (private yacht club) to see their athlete come out of the water. They were only able to see the athletes running in and out of the T1 area.
We stayed until the final athlete came out of the water. He was a Challenged Athlete in a wheelchair and an inspiration. At this point we were worn out and headed back to the hotel to take a break until we go to the finish.
Waddling to the Battleship..........