Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Toughest Course In The World This Year?

Would you risk it all, after spending months preparing for a race, for a race cursed with inclement weather? If this was your qualifier for the world championships in Kona, Hawaii would you want to take that chance? The odds may favour the brave. Nothing ventured nothing gained. One competitor's preference for weather can be another's bugbear.

Ironman St. George, Utah was one such tough race, with tougher racing conditions yesterday. 4-5 foot swells and 40mph winds confronted swimmers and cyclists in one of the most grueling racing conditions for the 226K triathlon. Hundreds did not make the cutoff swim time, or were misled into thinking that the swim-leg was cancelled. was it miscommunication by race officials, or wishful thinking on the participants' part? Under such trying conditions, where safety is tantamount to all parties on/in the water, the calls had to err on the side of caution. We can empathise with them for the rude surprise that awaited the fit triathletes on race morning. 

Having faced near-cancelled Ironman triathlons on three separate occasions, due to choppy water conditions as well as 'weather bombs' (gusts and gales), I can fully empathise with the upset participants. It is disappointing for participants to hear of a cancelled swim, or a modified course distance, or even a cancelled race. However, after the initial disappointment, distress and disgust over officials' decision, I was relieved when I realised how treacherous conditions were. When somebody gets injured or is involved in a fatality, it just dampens everyone's spirits. Nobody wishes ill of another competitor. A safe race is the ultimate outcome expected by organisers and participants. When organisers offered participants an alternative half-Ironman race the following day after the full race was cancelled at Ironman New Zealand 2012, most of us plunged into it. Ironman Korea 2006 cancelled its sea swim; Ironman NZ 2006 was modified into a 90K ride and 21K run. A race is still a race under the same banner and branded event.

We came to race, so why not? At the end of the day, we were thankful that we were got to test our mettle in many ways. Better safe than sorry. Live to race another day. I hope that the participants of IMSG will race the course again. Train and race safely, fellow athletes! 

Leadership Lessons: As a participant, what would you have chosen to do? As an official, what would be your call on the race? What would be your contingencies? What has your experience been like for a similar situation? Write and let us know. We would appreciate your thoughts on this very real issue. 

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