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We moved from the Marriott resort at Waikoloa to the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kona today. The King Kam is the host hotel for the race. We wanted to be close to the action. Ahem.

The drive down from Waikoloa made clearer how hard the bike will be. The temperature was in the low 90’s and the wind blew strongly into the faces of those heading back to Kona on their practice rides. Just watching them ride made me think, “Seemed like a good idea when I signed up….”

Once we arrived at the King Kam, we parked and walked toward the front desk. Mark Allen walked right by us in the opposite direction. I was completely, utterly starstruck, but I didn’t have the nerve to say anything.

Margy went to the front desk, then on to the merchandise tent while I went to register for the race.

Just a few seconds before I started to cry.

Registration was uncrowded and the women who helped me couldn’t have been nicer. They seemed very sympathetic when I told them that they just couldn’t know what a big deal this was. Then I started to cry. Yeah, Ironman.

(The blue Road ID pictured above that is partially obscured by my orange official Ironman athlete bracelet is a birthday/Kona gift from Katie.)

I suppose that it’s fair to think that taking pictures of registration is a bit odd. Go ahead. To me, getting that orange wristband on means that there is no turning back and the race has begun.

I walked into the merchandise tent, which must have been more than 100 degrees, saw Margy, and needed to find a quiet spot to compose myself again. I hope that people there just thought I was really sweaty.

Since this trip to Kona was over a decade in the making, it seemed like a good idea to load up on the official merchandise. Who knows when or whether I will ever return? We made a few purchases in the merchandise tent and delayed our retirement by several years.

From there we went to the expo, several bl0cks away along Ali’i Drive, the street on which the race finishes. Ali’i Drive offers the standard tee shirt and trinket shops and seafood restaurants one might expect of a small seaside resort town.

The expo was hot, dusty and crowded. As I waited for a signed cycling jersey given away by Ceepo bikes, Margy spotted Mark Allen. She asked if I wanted his autograph. I took off my Bowdoin Rowing cap and Margy took it to Mark Allen, who dutifully signed it. Then Margy headed over to collect a signature from Chrissie Wellington but I failed to make it there in time. (My bad; I started to talk cycling shoes with a manufacturer.)

We needed to chase back to another area in the expo but we got Chrissie Wellington to sign a poster and my hat, too.

That means that my Bowdoin Rowing hat has been signed by winners of ten Ironman World Championships: Mark Allen has won six and Chrissie Wellington has won four.

On my way by his Mark Allen Online training booth, I stopped and thanked Mark for signing my hat. I started to talk but could not say anything. I was utterly tongue-tied. I apologized and started over. He was nice. We talked about a book written about him and Dave Scott and their famous race at Kona in 1989.

Yeah, I know. I turned 54 on Monday. Meeting Mark Allen and Chrissie Wellington shouldn’t be that big a deal. But I am here now and I don’t know when I may ever return. These are possibly the greatest two Ironman triathletes of all time and I got to chat with them, even if only for a couple of minutes.

I am soaking up everything.

Unbelievably cool.

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4 Comments

  1. I’m crying too, man. But there’s no one else in my livingrroom, and I’m not taking pictures to prove it. I’m so happy for you! Enjoy!

  2. Scott – I’ve had the opportunity to watch you chase this dream over the years and you’re a great example of dtermination and persistence. It was a real treat to cross the finish line side by side at Wildflower this spring. I found your blog via Coach Jared, and I’m trilled to read you story. Best of luck on Saturday!! This is your party Enjoy.

  3. So glad to hear you are living it up and taking it all in!

  4. Scott you are giving me goosebumps. You have earned this and beyond – keep soaking it up – it isn’t strange at all, its truly how it should be. Now I better go start training 🙂


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