By Karl Hayes
Ironman Australia turned on another magnificent day to push the 1500 competitors and the huge number of supporters to their limits. While it was a fascinating and exciting race at the pointy end, there was plenty of drama throughout the field. One older male athlete dug deep and set out on the run after a heavy fall on the bike that saw him covered in blood and with his arm in a sling. Whether or not he was able to complete the run he earned the title of Ironman.
A number of athletes raced in honour of loved ones who had passed away, with the emotion of their achievement being evident as they made it down the finishing chute cheered on by their supporters.
The hot and dry conditions were probably even more of a challenge to the age groupers than they had been to the elites due to their time on the course. An unusually high number found themselves in the medical tent after the race, and the wheelchairs received very heavy usage by the finish line catchers.
Trent Chapman, 3rd overall, had an amazing race to be the first age grouper and to beat all bar two of the professional athletes. Chapman, previously an elite triathlete, has made a miraculous comeback in the process loosing 20kgs since Christmas. The emotion he showed at the finish line showed how much this meant to him. He was embraced by his friend two time World Champ Craig Alexander at the finish line.
Best finish of the night would go to “budgie” (so called for his fluro budgie smugglers) who danced a wild gig all the way down the chute, and the crowd went wild when Pete Murray called him back out for an encore.
Most popular age grouper of the night was Leader of the Federal Opposition, Tony Abbott. Tony received great support throughout the event and impressed everyone present with his achievement. He was welcomed wholeheartedly into the Ironman family. With all the negative press in the weeks leading up to the event it was amazing the Mr. Abbott had the composure to complete the race. It was disappointing for many athletes and spectators to read the Sydney Morning Herald front page story which failed to capture the weight of Tony’s and the other 1,499 athletes achievements and showed a lack of understanding for what motivates people to take on Ironman.