Ironman Wisconsin 2014 – Volunteer Race Report
First off, let me start this post by saying how amazing Madison, WI is! That’s hard for me to say, I’m a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, I’m not supposed to like Wisconsin…haha!
So my wife and I signed up to volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin again this year. We did this back in 2012 in order for my wife to sign up for the 2013 race. That was our first-ever Ironman experience and it was truly amazing, we instantly fell in love with it. So of course, we planned to head up there again this year — even though I was already signed up for the 2015 race from our tri club’s early entry program.
We headed up for the 8am volunteer meeting (we live about 3 hours south of Madison), we made it just in time. We were in the change rooms during T1 this year, I was in the men’s one, of course. We did our walk-thru of the change room and the Bike Bag room, figured out where and when we needed to be there, then took off for a quick buzz thru the expo. I tried on some Newton Fate running shoes, they were awesome, I should have bought them, but I didn’t….(insert sad face here).
For those of you who haven’t been to Madison, they have a MASSIVE farmers market! So we walked around there and bought tons of food, it was great. Then, I needed to get in a 12 mile run, my last “long” run of my marathon plan. I found a good route along the lake on the bike path, it was me and (maybe) hundred Ironman athletes doing their last run before their big. It was a tough run, hot and sunny, plus I didn’t have a whole lot of food in me just yet, and we were running basically at lunch time. Not fun. Everyone was probably wondering why I was there running a longer distance with a full fuel belt on…
After the run and some lunch, we hit the expo again. Walked thru the Ironman store, making a mental checklist of the thousand Ironman items I want to buy next year, after I deserve it, of course. I did buy a “Ironman in training” shirt, my wife said it’s the only Ironman/M-Dot item I’m allowed to wear right now!
Madison Farmers Market
Dinner was at the Great Dane Brewery, another must-see stop in Madison…the food is great! We ate here in 2013 also, it was THE place for us to eat at again this year.
The Final Goal!
Sunday – Race Day!
Woke up and headed into downtown, hit the Starbucks for some “fuel”, then to the Terrace (where the race starts and transition is). We checked in at our volunteer spots, then were able to grab a spot by a window to watch the swim start. It’s awesome! I love hearing the washing machine sound as all the swimmers chug by us, it’s was pretty freaky thinking I’ll be out there next year!
The “Calm” Before the Storm
The change tent was intense, I was shocked at the huge wave of athletes that come thru there, it was a madhouse, but really well organized. The scope and size of volunteers it takes to put on an event like this, is truly amazing. It was so much fun! Sorry, didn’t get any photos, that would be weird….haha! Our shift went from 7:30am until about 10:30, after the last athlete comes thru T1, we helped out move the Bike bags to the other side of the room and sort them out in preparation of the run bags and morning clothes bags later on that day.
Our tri club (Endure It – www.endureitsports.com) always sets up a tent on the last hill — there are 3 big hills on the bike course, the 3 sisters, or 3 bitches, depending on who you are talking too — so we drove out there and cheered on all the athletes. Our club had about 9 athletes racing this year, 2 of them are good friends with my wife from last year’s training, so we HAD to see them. This was my first chance at seeing the bike course, let me tell ya, those are some BIG hills! I teased my coach (start in January) that I wanted to give up my race entry already, but she won’t let me. I was kidding of course. There is some crazy stuff on this hill, here are some photos….
Endure It Tent
View Down the Hill – this doesn’t do it justice, by any means…
After we saw our last athlete come by, we packed up the tent and moved back to downtown and the run course/finish line. We cheered on the runners for a few hours then headed to the Tipsy Cow for dinner. Another great place for a burger!
Then we headed over to the finish line, found some Endure folks there and were able to get right up to the fencing. We stayed there for almost 4 hours and cheered our brains out! I gave out LOTs of high-5’s, to anyone wanting it! We were right at the last corner where the runners turn as they see the finish line.
The Run Course – Down State Street
The Finish Line
The Last Stretch!
Team Triumph, make the last turn on the marathon. Truly amazing! We cheered these guys on EVERY time they passed us, all day long!
I loved watching everyone’s face as they see that last stretch before they can hear their name called out as an Ironman. I admit, I got chocked up multiple times by the sheer joy of looks athletes had on their face, it was awesome. This is why I’m doing this race. I’m going to be that guy next year. Teary eyed and soaking up every second I can. I can’t wait!
Woohoo!!! I’m pumped!