Sunday morning 4:30 Tri City woke up too the sound of booming thunder and a soaked
parking lot. Lightening strikes lit up the dark early morning skys. By 5:30 the
skys were clear we were treated to a beautiful Canadian sun rise. The race had
hundreds of volunteers body marking, attaching timing chips, taking special needs bags. It
was extremely important for someone who is as absent minded as me to have the volunteers
so well organized. As Tri City moved down to the water we wished each other good luck with
hugs and hand shakes.
A canon sounded the start of a 141 mile journey which launched the over 1700
triathletes into the crisp clear Canadian water. Everyone tried to be courteous but with
the largest mass swim start in the planet there was jostling. Everyone on the club had
either a PR or came close to PRing the swim. This was a good start for the long day ahead.
Into the changing tent wet cloths off, dry ones on, run to the bike cleat in and go.
We ride past cheering crowds as we leave the transition area. Up the hill through town
we travel. The Tri City cheering section decked out in the flashy yellow T-shirts wish us
good luck. I settle into a maintainable pace 120 beats per minute heart rate which I hope
I can maintain the entire day. At about 25 miles Randy goes by "Looking good
Randy" I yell "Dont go out to hard" Randy assures me he is
maintaining. Soon after I hear Laura encouraging me she goes by on an uphill.
"Remember to drink Laura. That water bottle should be empty by the next aid
station". Soon we are on one of the faster sections of the course I go by Laura and
begin to pass slower cyclists. Just before Richter I catch Tom Ercig so we ride together.
Tom says his heart is at 160 bpm I ask "Can you stay there"? He assures me he
has I high heart rate and 160 is normal. A right at the Husky Gas Station and up Richter.
Tom leaves me as he powers up Richter and I settle into a methodical pace up our first
challenging climb (little did I know Tom and I would cross paths many more times). Soon I
see Gonzo. I am having an easier time up Richter and begin to put distance between he and
I. Soon after passing Gonzo I hear a high pitched bumble bee sound. This sound would be
familiar to all of us before the day was done. Halfway up Richter. Danitas friend Lawrence
rides by on the quit little scooter with video camera in hand. He stops to get a shot of
me climbing and offers words of encouragement as he waits to do the same for Gonzo. The
ride is a series of rollers for the next 25 miles Gonzo catches me and we ride together
for awhile. At about 75 miles my stomach protests the Power Gel it is forced to digest on
20 minutes intervals. I ride with previously digested gel all over the handle bars and
drinker (uchhh). Next challenge Yellow Lake a 4 or so mile steep climb.
I continue losing everything I try to eat and am forced to hop off the bike at the next
aid station. After exiting the porta potty I hear course workers yelling "GET AN
AMBULANCE" I look towards the direction of the commotion and see Gonzo lying on his
back. I immediately run to him letting out a "Oh SXXX". Are you OK buddy I ask.
He lets me know it is only a cramp. I give him my last salt tablets ask if he wants me to
stay. Gonzo assures me he will be alright so I leave. The climb up Yellow Lake is
comparable to Palomares Canyon not too difficult unless you have already ridden 85 miles.
After the climb everyone was expecting an easy ride to Penticton because the rest of the
course is downhill. Heavy winds forced us to shift down a couple gears and pedal in. As I
ride past the Tri City cheering section it was decision time for me.
I had a virus which I could not shake. Repeated trips too the doctor office,
antibiotics, resting, nothing seemed to work. The virus kept me from Vineman and limited
training to a single swim and run in a six week time span. I got a real scare a week
before Ironman, I tried running at a 10 minute a mile pace and only got a half a mile.
My decision was too run. If I get three miles in and quit at least I tried.
Out of the transition area I exit at the same time crowds were welcoming Lori Bowden
in. She finishes 4th overall beating most of the pro men. On the uphill which
leads out of town I am interviewed by a camera man riding who is on the back of a
I stop to talk to the Tri City cheering section kiss my daughters Lindsey and Courtney
and start a 71/2 hour journey.
Thanks to everyone that was in the cheering section it kept all of us going!!
At three miles the run is not a run but a shuffle-walk. I cant drink because I
cant keep liquids or food down.
At 6 miles I spot Everitt as he is attacking a long hill. I yell "Everitt 10k to
go looking good". Within minutes J.C. runs past but he is so focused it doesnt
hear a word . At about 8 miles Laura runs past me determined to finish her first
Ironman(congrats (Laura you are awesome). As I round a corner I see Harry running hard
with Robin nipping at his heels. This battle turned out to be a struggle of will power.
Neither giving an inch and with many lead changes during the run. Phil runs by looking
strong and smiling he will finish with an incredible time for his first Ironman. At ten
miles Gonzo runs with me telling me I can do this. Soon Tom Ercig joins us "Not the
way I thought the run would go " Tom says. Tom had calculated that if we did 4 miles
an hour we would make it in with time to spare. Thanks Tom I may have called it quits if
it wasnt for you!!! We spot Danita at 11 miles she is on her way in later she said
she pushed a little to hard on the bike. After the turn around I was able to put an
awkward run together. Out of desperation I force myself to jog as long as possible. In the
darkness an ambulance lights the path for two runners heading towards the turn around.
As I near the lights I recognize Steve Bertges, Steve you are one tough son of a gun!!!
I pass Gonzo and Tom with a jog shuffle with no thought of competition. This is out of
desperation to finish before twelve. Eventually I walk because of stomach problems. From
this point I would walk the rest of the way in. Any semblance of what you could call a run
caused major stomach problems. Not drinking or eating had finally caught up with me. Tom
walked with me as he told me I would make it with time to spare. He would soon disappear
into the darkness.
The people of Penticton are incredible it is nearing 11 p.m. and they are still out in
force encouraging us in. A 16 boy walks with me for a half mile and explains how he will
be competing when he is 18. A mother has her three children escort me up the last hill. I
am in town I come to the realization I am going to do it. I have enough time!!! An Aussie
who has recorded a 10 hour Ironman at Kona walks with me. He has stomach problems also. We
agree to finish together. He explains how he has learned more from this race than any of
his previous. "This is about being mentally tuff" he explains. As we near the
finish we refuse to run even though my competitive side says dont let people pass
you. "Mate we have had to walk a good portion of this race, we will look foolish
running the last 100 yards". We finish crossing with a hand shake.
Into the medical tent I go. Two bags of IV fluid and I am able to function. My Blood
Pressure had dropped because of loss of fluid. My daughter finds me in the tent. We spot
Everitt who snaps a picture as we exit the tent. Everitt has finished hours ago and he has
got be drained yet he is making sure he gets everyones picture. Everitt Thank You!!
The next morning I hear Dr Steve and Danita spent time in the hospital receiving
Everyone from Tri City completed IMC, we all come away stronger and richer because of
Congratulations too everyone who competed. Thanks to the cheering section you kept us
Thanks to the Bertgess making sure I got a home safely.